The drive for building efficiency in the UK has been given a boost with the news that landlords in England and Wales will be required to get privately rented homes up to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E.
The government announced last week that up to one million tenants renting from a private landlord will benefit from the plans, which will apply from April 2018.
Financial support will be available through the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation to help landlords improve energy efficiency in the homes they let out. As a result, landlords won’t necessarily have to foot the bill for installing new boilers and insulation measures – and they will only be required to make improvements that are cost-effective.
Ahead of the April 2018 deadline, tenants can take action themselves: from April 2016 they will have the right to request consent for improvements to make their homes more comfortable, and easier and cheaper to keep warm, and the landlord cannot unreasonably refuse.
As well as being better for the environment, efficient homes save householders a significant amount of money in heating bills. According to the Department of Energy & Climate Change, estimates suggest that on average the difference in a heating bill between the least energy efficient properties and those with a Band E energy rating is as much as £880.
Fuel-poor households living in the least efficient privately-rented homes already have to spend on average around £1,000 more to keep warm compared with the average home, the department pointed out.
The government also has plans to create a £25 million fund to support the installation of first-time central heating systems in off-grid households. This is on top of an investment of more than half a billion pounds over three years to get Britain’s homes warmer and leaking less energy, it said.
Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, commented:
These new laws will plug the gaps in draughty homes – helping households to keep warm and drive down bills. Many of the poorest tenants will benefit and, with government support, landlords can improve their properties at no upfront cost.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Amber Rudd added:
These new regulations will drive bills down in some of the worst-insulated homes where up to one 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.