Landlords: it’s time to act on energy efficiency
Government regulation is working to encourage landlords to take responsibility to improve their properties. More than a third (36%) of the nation’s homes are privately rented and one in ten (13.5%) of these properties are rated F or G – the lowest two grades on the EPC scale of energy efficiency.
This is not just an environmental issue; warm tenants are happier tenants and these cold, damp and draughty homes are becoming a major UK public health concern. Since the Energy Act was introduced in 2011, new rules have been introduced to require landlords to improve the energy efficiency of private rented properties.
What is about to change?
From April this year: Residential private landlords will be unable to refuse a tenant’s request for energy efficiency improvements where government support is available to help pay for them.
From April 2018: All landlords must improve their properties to an EPC rating of at least an E, or have installed those improvements using any available government subsidy. These rules will apply to all private rented properties – including occupied properties – from April 2020 in the domestic sector, and from April 2023 in the non-domestic sector.
Have you got an Energy Performance Certificate?
Landlords must have the energy efficiency of their properties assessed with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These are required before a landlord can market a property and in order to provide to their tenants. Government research demonstrates a positive link between high energy performance ratings and property prices.
EPCs show exactly what is required to bring a property up to scratch. Basic measures include the following:
- Insulation: Lagging the loft of a semi-detached property can save £140 a year on fuel bills
- Draught-proofing: One of the cheapest ways to prevent heat loss
- Replacing old heating systems: Replacing an old boiler with an A-rated model with heating controls can save £340 a year
You can be fined for not providing an EPC so it’s important to take this first step and have your property assessed by an accredited body and keep your certificate in a safe place, ready to display.
By 2020, landlords cannot let out a domestic property with an EPC rating below an E grade. And, from 2018, all new tenancies should be E-rated. Local authorities will have the power to issue fines of up to £5,000 if landlords fail to comply with the rules.
Where to find support
Whether you’re a landlord with just one property or large portfolio, there hasn’t been a better time to start thinking seriously about energy efficiency. The Department of Energy and Climate Change is currently developing a new programme to replace the Green Deal, which should assist with the up-front cost of getting these measures installed to improve your EPC.
There is more support available for landlords in Scotland than elsewhere, but there are still opportunities to receive financial assistance.
Affordable Warmth: There is support available through the Affordable Warmth element of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) if your tenants are in receipt of certain benefits.
Local authorities: There are also local authority-backed schemes around England that often channel funding from energy companies. Give your council a call and find out if there’s help available in your area.
For further advice and assistance about eligibility and to apply, you or your tenant should call the Energy Saving Advice Service on 0300 123 1234.