The RLA is asking the Government to rethink its energy efficiency plans – warning proposals to introduce minimum EPC ratings could mean rent hikes, or increased homelessness if landlords are forced to sell.
New laws mean that from 2018 it will be illegal to rent out property with energy efficiency ratings of F and G. And now that the Government has removed all financial support for works in buy-to-let homes the RLA is warning it could be tenants who pay the price.
Nearly a third of private rented housing was constructed before 1919 making them some of the hardest to treat properties for energy efficiency improvements.
Now the association has warned that expensive works could mean increased rents as landlords try to cover their costs. Not only that, but the 2018 deadline could make it impossible for landlords to complete the works in time –leaving empty properties that they are unable to let at a time when rental homes are needed more than ever.
With fuel poverty a bigger challenge in the PRS as a result of the ageing stock, the RLA argues it is remiss that the Government’s consultation on the future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) makes no reference to the PRS.
Despite ECO being designed to focus on fuel poverty, the consultation envisages extending the scheme to the already heavily subsidised social sector, which has newer housing stock and fewer tenants in fuel poverty.
Previously the Government supported landlords in implementing energy efficiency through the Green Deal and a tax allowance – all of which have now ended.
The RLA has been told landlords could potentially face having to pay up to £5,000 up front for improvements. Coming on top of recent tax hikes from the Treasury it is inevitable that costs will be passed on to tenants in the form of higher rents.
The RLA is instead calling for a specific allocation under the ECO, scheme to support improvements in the PRS, and for EPC-related improvements to be tax deductable.
RLA Policy Consultant, Richard Jones, has said: “Whilst we all want to see improvements in the energy efficiency of homes to rent, that cannot come at the expense of driving up rents, or a rise in evictions as landlords seek vacant possession to sell these properties.”
For details of the new energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector click here.