Ambitious new energy efficiency plans for the private rented sector (PRS) have been unveiled by the Government this autumn. In this week’s #ExpertView National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) Chief Executive, Ben Beadle, looks at how the planned changes will affect the PRS – and why landlords should take advantage of funding on offer right now.
Covid-19 is continuing to dominate the headlines, but against this backdrop, life continues to move on. It is with this in mind that we look beyond the pandemic to new Government plans to improve the energy efficiency of rented homes.
As of this year, all rental properties (other than those with valid exemptions) must have an EPC rating of E grade or higher to be legally rented out. Under the new plans, this will be raised to a C grade or higher from April 2025 (for new tenancies), with all landlords needing to hit the targets by 2028.
The new proposals – currently out for consultation – would also introduce an EPC cost cap of £10,000 – much higher than the current £3,500 level.
I understand the need for improvements across the sector and the benefits that come from energy-efficient homes. They are good for landlords as they are more attractive to potential tenants, and renters as they mean cheaper bills. However, as a landlord myself, I know any changes to the rules could leave some facing significant challenges.
Landlords of older properties – particularly pre-1919 homes with solid walls – may find it difficult to reach the new standards due to the way their property is constructed. Others who are off grid, have homes in areas where the cost of the works is disproportionate to the value of a property, or own Listed buildings may also have problems.
It is with this in mind that the NRLA policy department is drafting a response to the ongoing Government consultation, which closes on December 30.
The Government has made it clear it is firmly committed to improving standards when it comes to energy efficiency and has committed in its manifesto to this end.
The NRLA is now campaigning for a share of the £9.2 billion pot of cash the Government has set aside to invest in energy efficiency to support landlords in the private rented sector who need to make improvements. The NRLA is also asking the Government for assurances that any energy efficiency targets set for landlords will be fair and achievable.
What’s needed are clear, long-term proposals for the trajectory of change, to go alongside a package of funding for works, should the Government opt to progress with its proposals. This will help landlords plan and budget for the changes and improvements they will need to make to their properties over the next 10 -15 years.
In the meantime, I would advise landlords to take advantage of Government funding currently available to make energy improvements now through the Green Homes Grants scheme.
The scheme sees the Government provide vouchers that will cover up to two thirds (67%) of the cost of certain improvements up to £5,000 provided your plans meet certain criteria.
Despite the lockdown, works can still be carried out and applications are still being processed, with the Government recently extending the deadline by a year to March 31, 2022.
As the cash is available in England only, we have approached the Welsh Government to replicate the scheme there.
Statistics show that standards in rental homes have improved dramatically over the last decade, a testament to landlords’ desire to make homes warmer and more efficient. The NRLA is now focusing efforts on lobbying the Government to make sure financial support is there to raise standards even further.
For more information on the Government plans on energy efficiency, you can access the Government consultation documents here.
For help in navigating the application process for the Green Grant scheme the NRLA website now includes a step-by-step guide to accessing the grants for members. The association also held a webinar on the issue, which can be accessed by NRLA members here.
The NRLA will be holding a second webinar on the issue on December 9. To register keep an eye on our webinar pages here.
The NRLA also gave evidence to the Government’s Environmental Audit Committee as part of its investigation into the energy efficiency of homes in the UK. To watch the video click here.
About the Author
Ben Beadle is Chief Executive of the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), the UK’s largest trade body for landlords.
A landlord himself since the age of 20, Ben started out as property manager before working his way up through the ranks at Tenancy Deposit Scheme (TDS).
He was then Operations Director at property management business Touchstone before overseeing the merger of the National Residential Landlords Association (NLA) and Residential Landlords Association (RLA) to create the new trade body earlier this year.
His key aims as head of the organisation are to strengthen the voice of landlords in Westminster and Cardiff, to improve the reputation of landlords in the media and to support members through information, training and accreditation.
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