Landlords are gearing up for changes to energy efficiency laws for rented properties which should see their tenants’ utility bills cut.
Landlords who rent out older properties – such as flats in Victorian and Edwardian tenements or old cottages - could be worst affected since the Act focuses on properties which have low energy ratings (such as F or G).
The energy rating of a property is listed on a rental home’s Energy Performance Certificate (which, by law, a landlord must provide to their tenant). Properties with A and B ratings are the best insulated rentals and cost tenants less in utility payments than those living in an F or G-graded property which are draughtier and will cost more to heat.
From April 1 this year tenants will have the right to insist that landlords improve the energy rating of a poorly-performing property. The landlord will have until April 2018 to do so or face a ban on letting out their property and having to pay a financial penalty. Landlords will only be able to refuse a tenant’s demands for more energy efficient measures if these are deemed ‘unreasonable.’
Landlords, however, will only be obliged to make the energy rating improvements if they can access a ‘green’ grant such as those issued by the Green Deal initiative or some other government-funded scheme. These give financial support for energy saving initiatives such as new boilers and cavity wall insulation. Landlords will also, no doubt, be relieved to hear that in some cases improving the ratings could be as simple as installing loft insulation in some cases.
According to the Department of Energy and the Environment (DECC) tenants in a G-rated tenancy have to pay £1200 a year more to heat their homes than someone in an energy-efficient home. For those in F-rated properties the cost would be £700 extra a year. Only last year the Association for the Conservation of Energy claimed that British homes were the most expensive to heat in Europe.
The Guidelines are due to be reviewed in 2020. Meanwhile landlords keen to find out how to improve the energy ratings of their older properties can call the Energy Saving Advice Line for help tel 0300 123 1234 (England and Wales).