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Agent urges landlords to speak out against expensive EPC rules

15 October 2020 | Renting

Anger continues to mount over government plans to make rental properties more energy efficient, with one agent advising his landlords to make their voices heard on the subject.

Stuart Nash, managing director of Somerset letting agency Stuarts Residential, has suggested his clients tell the government precisely what they think in a formal consultation period now open.

On his website Nash writes: “The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards were introduced in 2018 requiring all properties to have an EPC rating of no lower than an ‘E’ and if this isn’t the case then it is a breach to grant a tenancy.

“Having navigated our way through this we were rather surprised to see that the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced last week a consultation to increase the minimum standards further to a rating of ‘C’ by 2025.

“It was widely known that MEES would increase in the coming years but the suggestion was that the benchmarks would be ‘D’ by 2025 and then ‘C’ by 2030.

“While recognising the importance of energy efficiency, for landlords there are implications to these measures, particularly in older properties in conservation areas, where achieving these ratings is likely to be difficult. So it is important landlords have their say in these proposals.

“The consultation is open to comment until December 30 and we would strongly recommend that you take their survey so that you can make your views known.”

The government has made clear that while it is officially ‘out to consultation’ it favours one course of action:

– raising the energy performance standard for rental properties to Energy Performance Certificate energy efficiency rating Band C;

– achieving the improvements for new tenancies from 2025 and all tenancies from 2028;

– increasing the maximum investment amount, resulting in an average per-property spend of £4,700 under a £10,000 cap;

– introducing a ‘fabric first’ approach to energy performance improvements (this is improving the performance of the materials that make up the building fabric itself, before considering the use of mechanical systems).

Timothy Douglas, campaigns manager of the Association of Residential Lettings Agents, has already voiced his organisation’s opposition to the proposal.

“On the face of it these proposals simply do not take into account the state of the UK’s housing stock. We all want to see more energy efficient homes, but the new rules and requirements must be realistic and achievable” says Douglas. 

“Landlords and their letting agents are already taking the brunt of tax changes and many are providing support to tenants with Covid-related arrears. 

“A simplified [EPC] exemptions regime and additional financial support must be made available otherwise the measures in their current form, will not be achievable and that would mean further reductions in the supply of rented accommodation available.”

The consultation runs to 48 pages and you can see the consultation document here with details of how to respond. The closing deadline for comments is 11.45pm on December 30 – the government says it will respond next spring.

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.