Scottish ministers have defended proposals to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector by 2028.
Quizzed by MSPs about the impact of potential reforms - part of a heat in buildings bill - on housing availability, Patrick Harvie (main picture), Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights, said there was a long-standing policy to introduce standards, recognising that tenants had limited powers to make changes themselves.
Conservative MSP Alexander Stewart said letting agencies had warned that the proposals, combined with the Scottish National Party-Green rent cap, could result in landlords leaving the private rented sector, creating a shortage of housing stock.
Harvie explained that it had commissioned more research on potential impacts on the housing market to ensure that future regulations worked for all sectors. “The proposals come as no surprise to anyone in the private rented sector,” he added.
“This has been policy for a long time, and the proposals not only allow an extra five years for compliance but propose an alternative means of meeting the standards by simply working through a standard checklist of applicable measures.”
He argued that it would make the approach “flexible, easy, affordable and less disruptive to ensure that the energy efficiency standards are met”.
Harvie said the result would be an approach unlike elsewhere in the United Kingdom, where similar proposals were scrapped, adding some £300 extra a year on to the energy bills of private tenants.
“Mr Stewart might think that that is acceptable, but the Scottish government does not think that it is. We will save private rented sector tenants money on their energy bills. That should be a natural expectation when people rent their homes.”