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Landlords warm to tougher energy rules - but need more help

house with solar panels

Most private landlords think they should be subject to stricter energy efficiency regulations, according to new research, which finds that the government’s recent U-turn on EPC targets was counterproductive.

A Social Market Foundation (SMF) poll reveals that 80% want tougher rules on their properties but that some are frustrated by the uncertainty created by the government’s perceived indecisiveness or upset at having spent substantial sums of money on improving their houses, only to discover it was unnecessary. The cross-party think tank says those who have made improvements tend to want to get ahead of regulatory change, while a lack of clarity encourages landlords to delay the decision.

Existing support

The SMF believes more needs to be done to improve take-up of existing support as a fifth of landlords remain unaware of the ECO4 and Great British Insulation schemes. It admits that economic incentives - such as making the costs of insulating a property tax deductible from rental income - would be difficult to justify to the public.

Other suggestions include making councils ‘one stop shops’ for advice and information, accrediting installers, and introducing financial products with long payback periods such as property linked finance.

Government actions

SMF researcher Niamh O Regan says recent government actions seem to suggest that renters can either have energy efficient homes or affordable rents – but that this is a false logic. She adds: “Instead of trying to understand landlords and how they can be motivated to better insulate their properties, the government would rather kick the can down the road, pushing us further and further from greener, healthier and more net-zero friendly homes.”

Interestingly, these findings seem to completely contradict research by Landbay earlier this month which found three-quarters of landlords (74%) welcomed the decision to scrap the proposal for bringing private properties up to an EPC band C by 2028, largely due to the expense and difficulty of retrofitting older properties.

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