18/01/2016 | Richard Kay
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 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 should improve their properties to an EPC rating of at least an E, or have installed those improvements where government subsidy is available. 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. Note: they only have to do this if the home can be brought to that standard when grants or other financial support (eg ECO) are available to pay for the full cost of the required upgrades.
Have you got an Energy Performance Certificate?
Landlords should have the energy efficiency of their properties assessed with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). These are required bwithin two weeks of putting a home on the market and by the time the contract is signed (whichever is the earlier). Government research demonstrates a positive link between high energy performance ratings and property prices.
However, landlords do not have to have an EPC for their property. If the home has not been on the market since 2008 the landlord will never have had to get an EPC because it has never been marketed.
EPCs show exactly what is required to bring a property up to scratch. Basic measures include the following:
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.