As of 2018 landlords will be unable to rent out homes in England and Wales that have draughts in a bid to cut carbon emissions and energy bills. Around a million tenants will benefit from these new regulations, many of whom are currently paying £1000 more than the average annual utility bill of £1,265 due to their homes being poorly insulated.
These new regulations will mean that if homes’ energy ratings are F or G to a minimum of E, landlords will be forced to upgrade and improve the energy efficiency by 1 April 2018. If they fail to carry out these measures then they will be unable to let out their properties. Currently, almost 10% of the 4.2million privately rented homes in England and Wales wouldn’t pass this regulation.
Tenants living in homes that fall in the F and G energy rating brackets will be able to ask for energy improvements to be made to their homes from 1st April 2016, and if their requests are reasonable landlords will be legally bound to comply.
Energy and climate secretary Ed Davey said: “This is a very big measure. Effectively, we’re saying, if you do not improve your property up to the minimum of EPC [Energy Performance Certificate] E rating by three years’ time, you will not be able to let out that property. Which is quite a big stick, and it’s about time too. It’s really going to make a massive difference between now and the end of the decade. We’re talking about the deepest fuel poverty, and we’re going after it hard, because it’s frankly unacceptable in this day and age.”
Ed Davey also stated that he wished the regulations had been bought in sooner, as even though they started the proposal in 2010 there were wars between the coalitions which prolonged the process. “Not everyone in this government wants more regulation. But in energy efficiency, regulations play a crucial role,” he added.
These new regulations could end up costing landlords a fortune especially if they own multiple properties which is an extra expense on top of costs such as landlord insurance, maintenance and letting agent fees. However Davey claims that there would be impact…
Acting CEO of the UK Green Building Council, John Alker, said: “This could be the single most significant piece of legislation to affect our existing building stock in a generation, affecting a huge swath of rented properties. Government deserves huge credit for sticking to its guns. Some will undoubtedly cry ‘red tape’, but good landlords and forward-thinking property companies have nothing to fear.”
Welcoming the regulations, Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association said: “The government has struck a delicate balance between making clear what is expected and ensuring that there is a realistic prospect of landlords being able to comply. Setting the standard at a sensible rather than aspirational level, allowing time to achieve it, and granting exemptions if the necessary improvements cannot be funded through the green deal or other government subsidies mean that these new regulations will not impose an unreasonable burden.”
However, some people feel that the regulations do not go far enough. For example, energy campaigner at Friends of Earth, Sophie Neuburg, said: “With a government so deeply opposed to new regulation, the introduction of minimum standards is a step forward for tenants forced to live in heat-leaking homes. However, these regulations do not go nearly far enough and must be significantly strengthened in future to ensure struggling households are properly protected from poorly-insulated poor-quality housing.”
Meanwhile, the Association for the Conservation of Energy published an analysis stating that this winter there will be around 80% fewer energy efficiency measures being installed compared to the winter of 2011/2012. The Green Deal was introduced after the government scrapped previous energy efficiency support schemes in order to help home-owners make energy-saving improvements, however these figures show it may not be doing enough.
The CEO of the Federation of Master Builders, the vice-president of NUS and many other organisations asked party leaders to make a “commitment” in their election manifestos to spend more time and money on improving energy efficiency. They said: “High energy bills are causing suffering for millions of families across Britain, especially those on low incomes. Britain has some of the least energy-efficient homes in Europe.”