Private landlords must improve home efficiency

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Under new government plans, landlords will be required by law to ensure their properties have an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E…

Up to one million tenants renting privately will see their homes made more energy efficient under new plans from the government.

The plans will require all landlords from April 2018 by law to improve their properties to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E. It is hoped this will help low income and vulnerable households to pay less to heat their homes.

Estimated figures suggest that the difference between the least energy efficient properties and those with energy rating Band E is around £880.

People who live in the least efficient privately-rented homes spend on around £1,000 more to keep their home warm compared to the average home.

Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said: “These new laws will plug the gaps in draughty homes – helping households to keep warm and drive down bills.

“Many of the poorest tenants will benefit and, with government support, landlords can improve their properties at no upfront cost.

“It’s good news all round and yet another way we’re taking action to ensure that cold homes with bloated energy bills become a thing of the past.”

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Amber Rudd also commented. She said: “One million homes are already warmer and cheaper to heat as a result of government policies, but we’re not stopping there.

“These new regulations will drive bills down in some of the worst-insulated homes where up to 1 million tenants are paying too much to keep warm.

“It’s also good news for landlords, who can benefit from improved properties with the financial support of the Green Deal and other schemes, and a real boost to the industry.”

Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation schemes will be able to provide financial support, meaning landlords may be able to receive help paying the bill to install energy efficiency measures.

John Alker, Acting CEO of the UK Green Building Council, said: “This could be the single most significant piece of legislation to affect our existing building stock in a generation, affecting a huge swathe 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.

“This could provide the impetus needed to upgrade our worst-performing, most energy-hungry rented properties and help to kick-start a multi-million pound market in energy efficiency products and services in the UK.”

Although the rules will come into force in 2018, tenants will have the right from April 2016 to request that landlords make improvements.

Jenny Saunders, CEO of the fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA), commented. She said: “The private rented sector contains a high proportion of fuel poor tenants and many properties are not currently fit to rent out.

“We hope the introduction of the new regulations can help landlords drive up standards in the sector, deliver more affordable fuel bills as well as reducing carbon emissions.”

Richard Lambert, CEO of the National Landlords Association also praised the way in which the government had approached the issue. He 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 means that these new regulations will not impose an unreasonable burden.

“Indeed, where a landlord is in a position to undertake improvements, there will be no good reason not to.

“The NLA actively encourages landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their properties because it’s good business practice: a warm tenant is a happy tenant.”

The government also announced plans to put together a £25m fund to install first-time central heating systems in off-grid households.

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