Around 200,000 landlords will have to make rental homes more energy efficient

Tenants living in some of the coldest homes in England and Wales are set to benefit from amended regulations requiring landlords to install energy efficiency measures.

It means that tenants in homes with the lowest energy performance ratings could save an average of £180 a year on their energy bills when the upgrades are made with around 200,000 landlords having to take action.

Since April this year, landlords who own some of the coldest privately rented homes have been required to improve these properties with energy efficiency measures where support is available to cover the costs.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry said that the new measures, which come after a public consultation, will go even further by requiring landlords to contribute to the cost of upgrades.

During 2019, properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G, the lowest two energy efficiency ratings available, must be made warmer by landlords before they can be put on the rental market for new tenancies.

This is expected to cost £1,200 on average and will affect 290,000 properties, which represents around 6% of the overall domestic market.

These changes are expected to save households an average of £180 a year while reducing carbon emissions and potentially increasing property values with analysis showing the cost to the landlord would be more than offset by the increase in property value.

‘While the vast majority of landlords take great pride in the properties they own, a minority still rent out housing that is difficult to keep warm. Everyone should be protected against the cold in their own home and this announcement will bring this reality closer,’ said Perry.

Housing Minister Heather Wheeler welcomed the announcement. ‘These new measures will help improve the coldest homes, protecting tenants whilst also saving them money,’ she said.

‘This builds on our on-going work to crack down on the small minority of rogue landlords and drive up standards in the private rented sector, including through our reviews of health and safety standards and carbon monoxide alarm requirements in the home,’ she added.

Most landlords will be unaffected by the changes as their properties are already compliant. Where upgrades are necessary, the average cost to improve an F or G rated property to a band E is expected to be around £1,200, well below the upper ceiling being brought forward under new regulations.

Examples of measures include installing floor insulation and low energy lighting or increasing loft insulation. If upgrades will cost more than £3,500, landlords will be able to register for an exemption.

Today’s measures will come into force during 2019 and will affect around 200,000 landlords, some of whom will still have access to a variety of funding schemes. This includes support from the Energy Company Obligation scheme and local grants to bring their properties up to the required standard.

Ministers said that these measures will help to ensure the housing and energy market works for everyone by bringing greater fairness to energy costs and making renting fair and more transparent for all.

However, the Countryside Landowners Association (CLA), whose members provide around 40% of all private rented housing in the countryside, said landlords in rural areas will be hit hardest by these regulations.

CLA president Tim Breitmeyer pointed out that properties not connected to the gas network are automatically scored lower for using alternative fuels. ‘The majority of our members have already taken steps to ensure their properties comply with these energy efficient requirements, and in many cases, have invested far greater amounts than the £3,500 cap,’ he explained.

‘However, around four million properties are off the grid and rely on fuel which is more expensive than gas. This automatically results in a lower score than their urban counterparts, which increases the costs of compliance. Removing fuel price from how properties are judged would help to address this issue,’ he said.

‘Some landlords with properties in more scenic parts of the country could decide it is simply not viable to make the upgrade and either sell or let as holiday accommodation,’ he added.