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TBC: How landlords will upgrade homes to EPC band E without upfront costs, now Green Deal finance is off the table...

Posted by Anna Carlini on 3 March 2016 at 12:40 pm

The number of people renting in the UK is soaring each year, a figure which the UK charity "Shelter" says has currently reached 9 million people.[1] The number is increasing so rapidly it is thought that by 2025 more than half of under 40 year olds will be living in properties owned by private landlords. To meet this growing trend, new regulations are coming in from the 1 April to provide tenants with more rights and more of a say in the property in which they live. However, although this is good news for renters, things are never as simple as they seem.

We have previously written about these new energy efficiency regulations, but since they were outlined in 2014 several developments have further complicated the subject. The regulations hinge upon the involvement of the government funded scheme the Green Deal. The scheme was built into the process to provide a method of funding installations at no upfront cost to the landlord, instead increasing monthly energy bills to the equivalent of the savings made. However, last year the government announced that they would no longer be funding the Green Deal and so the scheme will no longer be able to offer funding for home improvements. This leaves a serious question as to where the funding for these improvements will come from, as the law specifically states that landlords are only obliged to make the changes if there is no upfront cost to them.

This leaves tenants in a much more precarious situation than may have been previously thought, but hope is not completely lost. Funding continues to be available from several other sources. The Energy Company Obligation, or ECO, offers support with insulation and heating to low income or vulnerable households and there are also loans available from Home Energy Efficiency Programmes (HEEPs) in Scotland which offer an interest free loan of up to £10,000 for a variety of improvements including solid wall insulation, double glazing or new boilers. It may be possible to acquire funding from one of these sources. If this is not possible, then tenants are able to offer to pay partially or fully for the improvements themselves.

So, what will happen when this new policy comes into effect? Well, considering the number of loopholes and ambiguities, it could well be too complicated for tenants or landlords to actually benefit. The future of this was already uncertain, and the end of the Green Deal has cast even more confusion over the workings of these laws. But ultimately it will be a question of how much uptake there is from tenants, how much funding is available, and how many cases the law actually applies to.

It is difficult to predict the success of these new laws, but there is certainly nothing stopping you from requesting improvements from your landlord. See whether you qualify for any funding. Do your research on what is in your home, what is efficient and what is not. After all, you may have a landlord who is happy to comply with your requests. Improved energy efficiency benefits everyone connected to the property. The tenant gets a cheaper to run, more comfortable home and the landlord gets a property that is more attractive to future tenants. And landlords, remember that properties must be a band E or above by 2018, so it may be better to invest now rather than incur all the costs of making improvements in a few years time. A more energy efficient home is a more sellable home, and happy tenants equals a happier life for everyone!


[1]: Shelter 

[2]: Friends of the Earth 

Image: Elliot Brown 

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