Government energy-efficiency plans for rental sector 'not ambitious enough'

by Gary Whittaker

The government's plans for energy efficiency in the private rental sector are "entirely unambitious", according to the National Landlords Association (NLA).

On April 1st, the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards will come into effect, prohibiting landlords and agents from renting out homes with energy performance certificate (EPC) ratings of F or G. 

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy wants to amend these, but new plans to place stricter responsibilities on landlords - and with them extra cost burdens - are likely to have unintended negative consequences, the NLA believes. 

Under the new plans, the existing five-year exemption for landlords from the new EPC-based constraints if they cannot get third-party funding to upgrade homes will be replaced with a responsibility to pay for the improvements themselves, up to a capped figure of £2,500.

The NLA argues this is only likely to place more burdens on landlords, which would then be passed on to tenants.  

In its submission to the consultation before it closed today (March 13th), the NLA argued for what it believes is a more constructive, ambitious and effective approach, which would work by incentivising landlords. 

The NLA alternative would be the reintroduction of the Landlord Energy Savings Allowance as a means of providing a positive tax break to ensure all properties can be improved. 

A key element in its argument is the statistic that 89 per cent of households in fuel poverty have an EPC rating of E or higher, so it is not just the least energy-efficient properties where a problem exists. 

It also noted the idea of incentivisation for landlords could command cross-party support, with Labour advocating it in their election manifesto last year. 

NLA chief executive Richard Lambert said: "Simply placing yet more costs on landlords is an entirely unambitious proposal that does nothing to help improve the properties where the vast majority of fuel-poor households live.

"The government should listen to the voices of stakeholders from across the political spectrum who are desperate for some positive and supportive action to be taken to incentivise the change we want to see."

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13-March-18General Lettings News