UK landlords want stricter energy efficiency rules and transition support

Tighter regulations and assistance with  boiler, insulation, heat pump, and window costs are among the requests.

white and red concrete building

Research conducted by cross-party think tank Social Market Foundation has revealed strong support among private landlords for raising the minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES) to a C, with almost 4/5 backing this idea. This compares with just 11% of people from a similar poll of the general population. 

Landlords are currently allowed to lease properties that meet an E rating, which is a contributing factor to the UK’s housing stock being among Europe’s least energy efficient. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak had previously planned on introducing a C or above passing grade, but this was scrapped in September along with a number of other climate-related u-turns.

According to Citizens Advice, private renters in England and Wales will waste £1.1billion in energy this year, or £220 per household, simply from heat leaking out through their walls and windows. Meanwhile, inefficient equipment can also add to already-high prices, at a time when inflation remains a major problem driving an ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Previous research by Social Market Foundation found that most landlords are on the fence about investment, but clearer guidance and a change to regulation would tip the balance in favour of making improvements to their portfolios. 

While the energy rating is a major part of this, a number of other steps have also been recommended. For example, making insulation costs tax deductible from rental income. However, only one-quarter of people believe schemes like this should be available to all landlords. Awareness is also an issue, with little over one-fifth of landlords understanding the range of schemes available to support them. 

Other recommendations included: 

  • Local authorities should play key role in increasing trust as ‘one stop shops’ for advice and information, and publicising ‘success stories’
  • Installers should be accredited by government and/or a trade body, to assure consumers of quality of work, reliability and trustworthiness
  • Checkpoint reminders – for example ahead of renovations – would keep insulation at the forefront of their minds
  • Mandating a higher MEES at point of sale would allow homeowners to get back the costs of insulating, although may be unpopular
  • Government should introduce new financial products with long payback periods such as property linked finance, for those homeowners not eligible for existing schemes.

‘British homes are on a dismal trajectory when it comes to improving energy efficiency, and failing to improve the private rented sector is losing an easy win,’ said Niamh O’Regan, a researcher at Social Market Foundation.

‘Recent government actions seem to suggest that renters can either have energy efficient homes or affordable rents – but this is a false logic,’ she continued. ‘Poor energy efficiency is currently costing them millions. Instead of trying to understand landlords and how they can be motivated to better insulate their properties, the Government would rather kick the can down the road, pushing us further and further from greener, healthier and more net-zero friendly homes.’

More on housing and energy:

Autumn Statement drops points on energy efficiency

Climate champions: 2023 Ashden Awards winners announced

Delivery confirmed for new Kensington & Chelsea heat network


Image: Yaopey Yong



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