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Homeowners and private landlords throughout the UK face a potential £4 billion in effective property tax by 2020, as a ‘carbon tax’ payable on energy bills.

This indirect taxation of poorly insulated homes will see property owners nationwide paying to offset the carbon of the country’s most poorly maintained properties.

Yet current efforts to ‘help’ homes out of fuel poverty are actually a downscaling of previous initiatives, with the Energy Company Obligation only likely to help between 350,000 and 550,000 households across the UK by 2022.

A Consumer Futures report claims this is a smaller total than would have been achieved through forerunners to the ECO – including Warm Front, CERT and CESP.

William Baker, chair of the End Fuel Poverty Coalition, says: “Without targets set in legislation, there is no guarantee that fuel poverty will be addressed in England by this or any future government.”

For private landlords, that leaves the decision of whether to invest in features like energy-efficient boilers and insulation, in order to reduce tenants’ fuel bills and help make their lives more affordable.

But with all billpayers facing the indirect property tax due to be added on to utility bills under the guise of the carbon tax by 2020, many real estate investors might reasonably feel that they are trapped between a rock and a hard place.