Councils can’t enforce energy efficiency regs in rental sector – claim

21 January 2021 | Renting

Councils can’t enforce energy efficiency regs in rental sector - claim

Propertymark has responded to the official consultation on the government proposals called Energy Performance of Privately Rented Homes in England and Wales – and it says it’s worried councils may not be up to enforcing the rules.

The government wants all new tenancies from April 2025 and all existing tenancies from April 2028 to meet band C or higher on an Energy Performance Certificate. 

The government also wishes to increase the cost cap to £10,000 per property; set a requirement for landlords to install ‘fabric first’ measures; as well as requirements on letting agents and online property platforms to only advertise and let properties compliant with the rules.

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However, Propertymark has given an extensive set of concerns about the proposals, including casting doubt on whether local authorities have the capacity to enforce them.

“We do not believe that local authorities have the capacity required to enforce standards in the private rented sector. There are not enough resources and enforcement is not a high enough priority for councils. 

“To this end, the proposed introduction of a private rental sector property compliance and exemptions database should not be implemented at the expense of local authorities prioritising enforcement” it says. 

Other concerns raised buy Propertymark revolve around these issues: 

Are The Proposals Achievable? Propertymark says: “The target is unrealistic and it is impractical to improve many properties based on the construction type and age. For instance, Wales has the oldest private rented dwelling stock in the UK, with 43 per cent built before 1919. Furthermore, too large a proportion of existing privately rented stock requires significant improvements to meet the C rating, which would reduce the amount of housing stock available to rent.”

Too Much Too Quick? The organisation tells government: “For the private rented sector in England and Wales, it is only a year since rules came into force to ensure all private rented tenancies meet EPC Band E, but the UK government has now proposed going to Band C within five years.”

Better Incentives Required: “Under the Green Homes Grant scheme, the UK government funds up to two-thirds of the cost of home improvements up to £5,000. However, landlords must redeem the voucher and ensure improvements are completed by 31 March 2022. Furthermore, the scheme is only applicable to landlords in England and not Wales. The UK government must provide better funding options for the private rented sector.”

Portals: Propertymark believes portals can play a role a greater role in aiding compliance but there are weaknesses the government must understand. “For instance, it is not common practice to advertise the tenancy type or whether the property has an exemption under the energy efficiency rules. Furthermore, rooms in shared accommodation are not required to have an EPC unless it is required for the property as a whole. Private landlords cannot advertise directly on property portals, so based on the consultation document which states that around 43 per cent of landlords use a letting agent to either let or let and manage a property for them, this means the UK government is focusing a large proportion of it is future enforcement activity and compliance on less than half of the sector.”

The Covid Effect: Propertymark says two long-term effects may make even existing agreed deadlines difficult: “Firstly, landlords will continue to be impacted financially with extreme COVID-19 related arrears still yet to be recovered. Secondly, difficulty for the sector to comply with new and existing legislation, which includes access to the property to carry out maintenance work, renovation, checks or make energy efficiency improvements.”

This post has originally been featured in Letting Agent Today.