Scottish government says its councils need to concentrate on Coronavirus and that work to upgrade properties would compromise tradespeople, tenant and landlord safety.

Scotland is suspending the introduction of EPC rules for private rented properties to keep landlords safe and free up local councils to deal with the Coronavirus crisis.

The Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 were due to come into force on 1st April, requiring a minimum EPC rating of E at the start of a tenancy from 1st October. However, they’ve now been postponed indefinitely due to the crisis. These regulations aim to halt the letting of properties that don’t meet the standards.

Similar regulation is due to go live in England and England tomorrow too, but the Westminster and Cardiff governments are yet to announce a suspension or delay to their measures.

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Unusual times

In a letter to the convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee, Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, acknowledged it was an unusual step, but said, “these are very unusual and fast-moving times”.

Stewart said the new duties and responsibilities placed on local authorities between now and October meant they would have to develop a system for registering exemptions and be ready to support landlords and enforce compliance.

“If introduced at this time, these duties would place a burden on them which would be detrimental to their necessary focus on frontline emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis, and their delivery of vital services and support to vulnerable people,” he said.

The regulations might require many private housing landlords to undertake energy efficiency works in preparation for the change, which risked encouraging them to try and get work done in tenants’ homes, despite social distancing measures.

Stewart added: “For these reasons, I firmly believe it would be unwise to bring the regulations into force from 1st April as planned. I can assure you that I will push forward with the vital work of improving energy efficiency in private rented housing as soon as the current COVID-19 situation comes to an end.”

Read more about EPCs.

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