Posts with tag: energy efficiency

Enforcement for landlords not meeting minimum energy efficiency standards introduced in Caerphilly

Published On: August 4, 2022 at 8:32 am

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Caerphilly County Borough Council’s Cabinet has agreed an approach for enforcement action on private landlords who fail to meet Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in their properties.

Officers from the Council will now be able to issue fines to landlords who rent property that have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G, with fines reaching £5,000. 

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulation 2015 sets out the legal obligation for landlords to provide energy performance certificates of E or above to existing, new and prospective tenants in most rented homes unless they are exempt such as listed buildings or officially protected. The regulations impose a minimum energy efficiency standard to help reduce fuel poverty and carbon emissions.

Cllr Shayne Cook, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, comments: “The Council has a dedicated team in place to tackle this issue and support landlords in bringing their homes up to the minimum standard of energy efficiency set out within the regulations.

“Ensuring properties are energy efficient is vital not only in reducing the harm to our environment but also in keeping tenants’ living costs to a minimum and improving their overall health and wellbeing.

“I’m pleased to say that over 90% of landlords in the county borough who have engaged with our officers are working with us to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Enforcement is a final resort for us as a Council, but the approval of this approach comes as welcome news as it provides officers with additional tools, when needed, to tackle this issue.”

Councils called on to take action against rented homes that fail MEES

Published On: May 4, 2022 at 8:46 am

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Ahead of Thursday’s elections, Generation Rent is calling on councils to identify local private rented homes that fail Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

It says councils should take action to bring properties up to standard, while giving tenants protection from eviction and a chance to claim back rent.

Generation Rent analysed EPC data to assess the scale of the problem in each region in England. A total of 201,000 homes recorded as private rented are classed as F on their EPCs and 62,000 are classed as G, out of a total of 4,265,000 with an EPC.

Recent research by JLL found that, following the increase in the energy price cap, the average energy bill for a Band G property is now £4,950 per year and £3,587 for a Band F home. For a home at the legal minimum of Band E, the average bill is £2,687. Upgrading a Band F home to the legal minimum would therefore save the average tenant £900 per year and upgrading a Band G home is worth £2,263. Across all households affected, landlords’ failure to comply with the law is worth £321m per year.

Since April 2020, under MEES, landlords are no longer allowed to let out a home with an EPC band of less than E, unless it has an exemption. As of 1st July 2020, just 9,269 private rented properties had an exemption from MEES.

Local authorities are responsible for enforcing MEES. Generation Rent made Freedom of Information requests to councils accounting for two thirds of England’s private renter population. Of the 101 councils that provided information about their MEES enforcement work in 2020-21, just 13 issued enforcement notices, a total of 359.

Barnsley Council issued the most notices (181), followed by Bristol (35) and Thanet (30).

Landlords failing MEES are only liable for a maximum fine of £5,000, and their tenants are not protected from eviction if they complain or eligible to claim money back to compensate for higher bills.

However, Generation Rent points out that councils enforcing MEES can usually serve non-compliant landlords with improvement notices on the basis that the home is too cold to be considered safe. This protects tenants from a retaliatory eviction for six months and gives them the basis to claim back rent through a Rent Repayment Order if the landlord fails to make the necessary improvements.

As voters elect councillors on 5th May, Generation Rent is calling on councils to commit to using publicly accessible data on EPCs to identify tenants in cold homes and all their enforcement powers, including improvement notices, to protect them.

Alicia Kennedy, Director of Generation Rent, comments: “A quarter of a million households are in homes too cold to be legal and with energy bills through the roof, they are paying hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds more than they should as a result. People will miss meals, get ill, and fall into arrears as a result of their landlord’s negligence. “Councils have the data and the powers they need to protect the most vulnerable tenants – but at the moment most are not using them. The government needs to act much faster to ensure that private landlords insulate their properties, including by reforming tenancies to give tenants more confidence to exercise their rights.”

Government EPC rating plans causing confusion, Leeds estate agent finds

Published On: April 11, 2022 at 8:46 am

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Widespread confusion has been caused by Government plans to enforce a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating requirement of C, says Leeds estate agent HOP.

The Government is considering making a C rating the minimum requirement for all new tenancies by 2025 in England and Wales. This will also apply to all existing tenancies by 2028.

The changes are now part of the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill, which is currently going through parliament.

HOP is advising both new and existing landlords to seek expert advice and carefully consider a property’s EPC when it comes to new investments.

Luke Gidney, Managing Director at HOP, comments: “The EPC rating scheme has seven different bands, with G being the least energy efficient and A the most efficient. Currently, rental properties in England and Wales need to have an EPC of at least E to be let, unless they are exempt, but the Government is considering increasing this to C, as part of its ambition to hit net zero carbon emissions.

“However, a surprising number of new and existing landlords are unaware that these changes are on the horizon. Some estate agents avoid mentioning it in order to secure a sale, but we work hard to make sure that investors fully understand what they’re buying.

“We’re already advising a number of landlords on steps to improve their ratings and have decided to launch a comprehensive EPC Consultation Service to help navigate the proposed changes. Several members of our team are training to be official EPC assessors, so we can provide tailored and strategic advice on the best ways to improve a property’s energy performance.

“It’s also important to remember that the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings Bill still has a long way to go before it becomes law, and it could still be thrown out, and this is part of the reason why there’s so much uncertainty and confusion around it.

“In many cases, turning a property into a C rated home could be as simple as improving the insulation or installing a more efficient boiler, but in some older properties it could require significant investment and work. It’s therefore important that anyone investing in property now, as well as existing landlords, fully understand the EPC rating that’s put in front of them and seek professional advice.

“Despite the possibility of the new legislation and the impact it may have on some properties, Leeds remains a very attractive location for investors. The city naturally offers better value for money than many other parts of the UK with attractive yields, against the backdrop of a strong local economy and high demand for quality rental property from both professionals and students.

“There’s also a good range of housing stock, with modern apartments and new builds always proving popular for investors and these are often built with a B or C rating. However, often it’s the older houses and traditional Leeds terraces in the sought-after suburbs surrounding the city centre, that offer the best yields, but these are generally less energy efficient than new stock.

“Investors buying these types of properties definitely need to consider how much it could cost if the property had to achieve a C rating and plan ahead for the possibility.”

Eco-friendly ways to reduce running costs and add value to a property

Published On: April 7, 2022 at 1:16 pm

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For property owners looking to make eco-friendly home improvements that might also add value, Barrows and Forrester has provided seven tips.

Based on its research, the letting agent suggests the following seven changes for a property:

1. Insulation

Upgrading a home’s insulation, specifically solid wall insulation, is one of the best ways of improving efficiency and reducing energy usage. It costs an estimated £2,750 to do but can boost property value by 3%. Based on the average UK house price of £273,762, this equates to £8,213, adding value to the tune of £5,463. This makes it the most profitable eco-friendly upgrade available to homeowners when it comes to adding value to their home, as well as reducing their carbon footprint. 

2. Electric car charging port

Despite the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid cars, it’s still very rare to find a home that comes with its own charge point. Installation is relatively inexpensive, around £800, and can add around 1.5% to the home’s value, adding £3,306 in value.

3. Boiler upgrade

Many homes can still benefit from a good old fashioned boiler upgrade. While notoriously expensive to do, around £2,500, the increased efficiency and longevity that a new boiler provides adds around 1.9% to the home’s value, adding £2,701 in value. 

4. Tankless water system

Similarly, if a home uses a tank system for its hot water, in which it uses a large tank to store large amounts of water that must then be heated every time hot water is required, it’s a very good idea to replace it with a tankless heater system. Doing so costs around £1,275 but adds 1.2% to the property’s value, a boost of £1,984. 

5. Double glazing

Fitting double-glazed windows throughout the home is very expensive, costing an estimated £6,575. It is, however, an essential step towards creating an energy efficient and warm home and is so important to homebuyers that the improvement adds 3% to the value of a property. Measured against the cost, this brings an added value of £1,638.

6. LED lighting and roof repairs

Increased efficiency and good profits can also be added through installing energy efficient LED lighting throughout the home (£1,069 profit), and addressing any faults or weaknesses with the roof (£987 profit).

7. Solar panels

Despite being one of the most common ways of improving the carbon footprint of a home, it seems they do very little in terms of added value. Installation is expensive, around £5,875, while the value added is estimated to be £1,916, a loss of -£3,959. However, there are obvious savings to be made from reduced utility bills, so if the owner is planning to stay in the home for many years to come, solar panels can still offer good savings.

James Forrester, Managing Director of Barrows and Forrester, comments: “Eco-friendly home renovations and upgrades can be a brilliant way of reducing the running costs of your home, which is something that has been brought into focus due to the spiralling cost of living. 

“But they don’t just reduce the day-to-day costs associated with our homes, they can also add value for such a time that you do come to sell. 

“In addition to the financial benefits they bring to the home, they can also help us make a positive change with regards to the environment and this eco-friendly conscience is something we are seeing more and more from the modern-day homebuyer.”

Research reveals two thirds of rental homes are not energy efficient

Published On: March 28, 2022 at 10:53 am

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Only a third of rental properties have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above, research from specialist property lending experts Octane Capital shows.

An EPC measures a property’s energy efficiency, with those in the higher bands of A to C benefiting from lower energy bills.

The Government has set a target within the private rental sector (PRS) for properties to have a minimum EPC rating of C or above by 2028.

Part of this includes the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings (No. 2) Bill, which recently reached its second reading in the House of Commons and aims to legally increase the minimum level of energy efficiency to a C.

Octane Capital points out that while this is good news for future tenants, just 33% of current properties in the PRS across England and Wales currently boast an EPC rating of C or above. That’s just 1.6 million homes out of a total of 5 million. It’s also estimated that the cost of bringing these rental homes up to a C rating sits at a minimum of £7,646 per property, with the total cost of improving PRS energy efficiency hitting £25.7bn.

Jonathan Samuels, CEO of Octane Capital, comments: “It’s currently a legal requirement that rental properties have both an EPC and a minimum rating of E. However, the Government’s new aim is to increase this to a C rating by 2028 and around two thirds of current PRS stock sits below this threshold.

“This means that many tenants will already be paying considerably higher energy bills than they would in a more energy efficient home and this cost is set to climb significantly higher this year.

“While the Government has committed to ensuring new rental homes meet a minimum standard, it’s fair to say they shoulder some of the blame where existing rental properties are concerned. The cost to improve a property’s rating to a C is substantial and many landlords simply don’t have the financial resources to do so, having seen the profitability of their portfolio dwindle thanks to legislative changes to tax relief and an increase in Stamp Duty when purchasing a buy-to-let home.

“It’s yet another example of how the Government’s campaign against landlords has been inadvertently detrimental to tenants and why we should be encouraging buy-to-let investment in order to raise standards across the sector.”

Government plans for energy improvements in rental housing need rethink

Published On: December 17, 2021 at 9:30 am

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Proposals for landlords across the country to pay up to £10,000 to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties require a rethink, says the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA).

In a consultation that closed in January the Government proposed that by 2025 all new tenancies in the private rented sector should be in houses with an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C or better. It is proposed that this standard should apply to all private rented properties by 2028.

As part of this, the Government has suggested that, in meeting these targets, landlords should be expected to pay up to £10,000 to make the necessary improvements.

Whilst the sector is still waiting for the Government’s response to this consultation, the NRLA is warning that the planned cap is based on a misguided assumption that all landlords are property tycoons with deep pockets.

NRLA research shows that private landlords make an average net income from property of less than £4,500 a year.

Recent figures have shown the scale of the problem the sector faces in meeting the Government’s ambitions. Across England over 58% of private rented households have an energy rating below a C. Around a third (32%) of private rented homes were built prior to 1919, some of the hardest to improve housing in the country.

The NRLA is calling on the amount that landlords should be expected to contribute to be linked to average market rents in any given area (known as broad rental market areas) as calculated by the Valuation Office Agency. Under the NRLA’s proposals this would mean the amount a landlord would need to contribute would gradually taper from £5,000 to £10,000, taking into account different rental values (and by implication, property values) across the country.

Alongside this, the NRLA is calling for a package of fiscal measures to support investment. This should include the development of a decarbonisation tax allowance, no longer applying VAT to energy efficiency and low carbon work and not charging council tax where energy improvements are being made to rental properties when they are empty.

Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA, comments: “We all want to see as many energy efficient rental properties in the sector as possible. Besides being good for tenants, improvements made to rental properties ensure they become more attractive to prospective tenants when being marketed by landlords and agents. However, the Government’s proposals for the sector are not good enough.

“They rely on a misguided assumption that landlords have unlimited sums of money and fail to accept the realities of different property and rental values across the country.

“Ministers need a smarter approach with a proper financial package if they are to ensure their ambitious objectives are to be met.”