Andrew Warren: It’s time to make sure all landlords play by the rules. For the past ten years, it has been illegal to rent or lease out any building without providing the occupier with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), together with a detailed energy improvement survey. From this April, officially nobody is able to rent or lease out any building with an EPC energy rating below an E. Those with F and G ratings are simply unlettable. Cause for celebration? After all, one of the biggest barriers to improving the energy efficiency of the building stock has long been the split incentive between the occupier and the owner. Normally, the former pays the fuel bill. But, given the short lengths of leases, has little incentive to spend to improve a building owned by somebody else. That is why EPCs for tenants were introduced. That is why, within the first year of the Coalition government, a law was passed stating that minimum energy standards will become mandatory in rented properties. The very long, seven year, gestation period was intended to ensure landlords had plenty of notice to make any necessary improvements; inevitably as the start date grew closer, the more protests of prior ignorance about such “draconian” requirements were enunciated. And I fear, listened to by government. So much so that at the last minute it was conceded that the maximum amount needed to be spent upgrading any property, no matter how large, to minimum standards would be halved. When the relevant public consultation had been launched, the proposition from government was that if you had to spend more than £5,000 bringing the building up to an E rating, you would be excused from doing so. This would have ensured that approaching half of all homes rented currently with F or G ratings would have been improved That requirement has now been halved, to just £2,500 per premises. And, perversely, included within that ceiling is any third party funding landlords might access, such as via the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) or a Green Deal financial package. The result of this absurdity is clear. On the government’s own estimates, less than one-third of those buildings currently rated as Fs or Gs will be likely to be upgraded thanks to this legislation, even to the modest E standard.. Given that it is now government policy to seek to bring every home up to a C standard within the next 17 years, this really is a serious lost opportunity.
Business Green 29th Oct 2018 read more »