Landlords to be banned from letting energy-inefficient homes
New rules forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties have been hailed as the 'most significant legislation in a generation' by the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC).
By April 2018, landlords in England and Wales will be legally required to upgrade their leakiest properties to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E, which could save tenants up to £880 a year on their heating bills.
"One million homes are already warmer and cheaper to heat as a result of government policies, but we're not stopping there," said the Government's Parliamentary Under Secretary for Energy Amber Rudd.
"These new regulations will drive bills down in some of the worst-insulated homes where up to 1 million tenants are paying too much to keep warm. It's also good news for landlords, who can benefit from improved properties with the financial support of the Green Deal and other schemes, and a real boost to the industry."
Finanical support for landlords will be made available through the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation, while tenants will have the right to request efficiency improvements which the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse, as soon as April 2016.
Sticking to its guns
Acting chief executive of the UKGBC John Alker praised the government for sticking with its efficiency-upgrade policy despite the mixed success of the Green Deal.
"This could be the single most significant piece of legislation to affect our existing building stock in a generation, affecting a huge swathe of rented properties. Government deserves huge credit for sticking to its guns," said Alker.
"Some will undoubtedly cry 'red tape', but good landlords and forward-thinking property companies have nothing to fear. This could provide the impetus needed to upgrade our worst-performing, most energy-hungry rented properties and help to kick-start a multi-million pound market in energy efficiency products and services in the UK."
National Landlords Association CEO Richard Lambert said the policy struck a delicate balance between what was expected and what was achievable.
"Setting the standard at a sensible rather than aspirational level, allowing time to achieve it and granting exemptions if the necessary improvements cannot be funded through the Green Deal or other government subsidies means that these new regulations will not impose an unreasonable burden.
"Indeed, where a landlord is in a position to undertake improvements, there will be no good reason not to."
The Government is also now drawing up plans for a £25m fund to support the installation of first-time central heating systems in off-grid households. This is on top of an investment of over half a billion pounds over three years, "to get Britain’s homes warmer and leaking less energy".
Riddled with loopholes
Sophie Neuburg, energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth - which led the campaign for tougher rules - said the new regulations on landlords were long overdue, but didn't go far enough.
"They only ban the most dangerously cold homes and are riddled with loopholes which unscrupulous landlords can take advantage of.
"Regulations requiring private rented homes to be insulated to a far higher standard are vital to prevent cash-strapped tenants shivering in heat-leaking homes, and to help reduce the nation's contribution to global climate change."
Sustainability Live 2015
Energy-efficient buildings will be a key theme at Sustainability Live 2015 in April, with a number of keynote sessions and panel discussions focusing on the opportunities for improving building performance and energy efficiency, retrofit strategies and the future energy management of buildings.