The coalition Government has planned to bolster legislation in an effort to force more landlords to improve the energy inefficiency of their rented properties. As part of the so-called ‘green deal’, which is likely to be presented to Parliament in December, the new provisions aim to fine landlords who rent properties that have not been properly insulated.
According to the English House Condition Survey, which was carried out in 2008, approximately 21 per cent – or 676,000 homes – of the 3.2 million private properties available in the private rented sector were among the worst performing in terms of energy efficiency. Out of the 676,000 homes, many were classified as being F or G-rated – the lowest bands of energy efficiency on the scale. The survey also revealed that 68 per cent of cavity walls had not been insulated and 45 per cent of lofts had either less than 100mm of insulation or no insulation whatsoever.
As a result of the proposed changes to legislation, it may soon be the case that landlords cannot afford to ignore loft insulation, cavity wall insulation and various other types of efficiency improvements to properties. Insulating walls and lofts can significantly improve the energy efficiency of a dwelling, which in turn reduces that property’s carbon footprint. The Government is legally required to reduce carbon emissions in the UK by 2020; as such, it is unsurprising that landlords have been targeted by policy makers.
Current legislation does encourage landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, however, such measures have so far proved ineffective. Since the carbon emissions reduction target scheme was implemented two years ago, just 1.9 per cent of loft insulation installations were carried out in the private rented sector compared to 91 per cent in the owner-occupier sector. Under existing law, local councils can force landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements on their properties – landlords can also face a fine of £5,000. If the Government’s latest legislation changes pass through Parliament, by 2015, tenants who ask for energy efficiency improvements can no longer be reasonably refused by landlords and councils will be afforded greater powers to demand action and impose fines.