Compulsory EPC band 'C' by 2025 causing confusion
There have been recent confusing reports put out that from 2025, all newly rented properties in England & Wales will be required to have an EPC rating of band C or above.
This is somewhat misleading and 'jumping the gun' as so far this is only a Government proposal following a recent energy performance consultation. But it does form part of the Minimum Energy Performance of Buildings (No. 2) Bill currently wending its way through Parliament.
And, given the Government's public commitment to net zero by 2050 at the recent international COP 26 hosted in Glasgow last year, it is looking as if the new standards will come in or at least something very close to the proposed changes.
The Bill states:
The Secretary of State must amend the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented 15 Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/962) to require that, subject to subsection (2)'
(a) all new tenancies must have an energy efficiency performance of at least EPC Band C from 31 December 2025; and
(b) all existing tenancies must be at least EPC Band C from 31 December 20 2028 where practical, cost-effective and affordable as defined under section 1(4).
What are the current regulations?
Currently, any property in England, Scotland or Wales that is either being built, marketed for sale or let as an entire property requires an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). Since the 1st of October 2008, landlords letting whole properties must have a valid EPC rated at 'E' or above to provide to prospective tenants. EPCs are valid for ten years. After this time, landlords are only required to get a new EPC if they are re-letting to a new tenant.
The Government's proposal in the Bill is that rental properties meet a compulsory energy performance certificate rating of band 'C' on new tenancies by December 2025, and on all rented properties by December 2028. Consequently these proposals must be taken seriously, but we're not there yet.
Small-landlords confused or not yet aware
According to a recent House of Lords report on housing demand, around 45% of landlords own just one rental property, and another 38% own between two and four properties. Given that many of these people don't follow developments too closely, many will be unaware of these potential changes which will affected them financially.
Some rental properties will require the substantial sums needed to bring them up to EPC band 'C' and this is scary territory for many rental property owners, it's causing a lot of concern.
One recent report by The Daily Mail's This is Money claims that one-third of landlords were 'not confident' they would be able to get their properties up to this standard. Some had said they were unable to afford the required improvements which may include such things as replacing old gas boilers, improving floor, ceiling and wall insulation insulation and installing double glazing in windows and doors.
Others said they did not see how they could do the necessary work with tenants in situ, and that they did not want to face the expense and loss of income by evicting them or finding temporary alternative accommodation. Others said they were unclear as to what they would need to do to bring their properties up to this standard because the Government had not provided enough guidance.
Although there is still uncertainty as to what the final rules will be, or even if the change will happen, the fact remains that sooner or later the standards will need to be improved.
Landlords might as well 'bite the bullet' sooner rather than later and plan to make impoundments when opportunities arise. One such opportunity would be when tenancies come to an end and before a new one begins.
Start off by taking a look at the recommendations in the current EPC document. This should give a guide, though it is perhaps more beneficial to get some builders' estimates from people who know what they are doing when it comes to energy efficiency improvements.
The Government and many campaigning groups see improving energy efficiency in British rental homes as a priority and there is no doubt that many of these homes have woeful standards which not only add a lost to the cost of heating, they affect the occupants' health.
According to the latest figures available from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK homes account for 15 per cent of the county's greenhouse gas emissions, a lot of which is down to poor insulation standards, heat is being paid for and lost unnecessarily.
Is there any financial assistance for property EPC upgrades?
The Government tried in the past to offer support through Green Homes Grant, available to landlords as well as homeowners, but the scheme was quickly abandoned. Given that there is a lot of political pressure to meet green energy targets however, it is possible that some form of financial support may be offered to landlords in the future, but so far there is nothing on the table.