Roof Insulation Goes OnThe government has announced plans which it says will improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector. The forthcoming Energy Bill will mean that, from 2015, any tenant asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements will have to receive them. Local authorities will also be able to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes.

Chris Huhne, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, is announcing details of the "New Green Deal" today, which will mean that homeowners and landlords will be able to take out "pay as you save" loans of up to £10,000 to pay for double glazing, solar panels or other energy efficiency measures and will be paid pack over time through savings on fuel bills.

Landlords have, of course, traditionally had less incentive to make these improvements as they're not normally the ones paying the heating bills: The Telegraph reports that about 670,000 homes, more than a fifth of the total 3.2 million in the private rented sector, are rated G or F, the worst energy efficiency rating (these figures are based on the 2008 English House Condition survey, the most recent year for which figures are available). In the first two years of the carbon emissions reduction target scheme, only 1.9% of loft insulation installations were in the private rented sector.

The government has insisted that there will be no upfront or negative cost to landlords, though local authorities will have the power to compel landlords to make improvements or to insist on doing the work themselves, and also to levy a fine of up to £5,000.

It's not yet apparent just how this will not involve landlords in extra costs, as Green Deal financing is paid for through energy bill savings. If the person who's paying for the loft insulation isn't the person who's paying the heating bill, are we looking at increasing rents to cover the difference? Let's hope Mr Huhne's announcement later today makes this clear.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Martin Pettitt

4 Responses to “Landlords to be forced to insulate rental properties”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Julie Hanson and, said: New from Upad: Landlords to be forced to insulate rental properties #property #rental [...]

  2. Dan @ Upad says:

    It is interesting, but perhaps not surprising, that so few landlords have invested in energy efficiency and lagging etc in their rental properties. Because so few are, I think it's good the govt is moving on this.

    It's also clear that there has to be a bit stick as well as carrot. Landlords haven't taken the leap to do it voluntarily.

  3. Tony says:

    Owener-occupiers aren't being obliged to improve the insulation of their properties, so why punish landlords? If the tenants don't like their cold houses, they are free to move elsewhere.

    Who defines "reasonable"? Does the tenant appeal to the local authority to force the landlord to upgrade? Why is this only being imposed on landlords and not owner-occupiers?

    The only reason we know how many rented houses are rated F or G is because landlords have to provide EPCs to tenants. How do the authorities know that the situation isn't as bad or worse in owner-occupied properties? Dan @ UPad can't say that "few landlords are investing in energy efficiency" because he doesn't know what owner-occupiers are doing and he doesn't know the cost-benefit figures. It is entirely rational for anyone not to invest in double-glazing for example, when repeated studies show that the payback period is 40-50 years, which is far less than the lifetime of the glazing seals themselves.

  4. Ian says:

    Yet more popularist and unecessary legislation to bring all these nasty landlords under control (all landlords are nasty aren't aren't they?!).
    Local authorities already have powers under the Housing Health & Safety Rating System (Housing Act 2004) to compel landlords to insulate or improve the heating efficiency of their properties, and if they don't can arrange the work themselves and bill the landlord.
    Last year I spent £2,000 on a new gas boiler and plumbing on a rented property occupied by a tenant (with a mental condition) who was convinced the old (15 year) boiler was poisoning her as the CO readings at the OUTSIDE flue were close to the maximum!
    Because she had complained to the Local Authority they came round 2 weeks after the new boiler was installed and issued an "Excess Cold" notice, even though the heating system was easily keeping the property at the 22 degrees the tenant had set at the thermostat.
    The reason for the Excess Cold notice: The loft insulation was "only" 100mm (which was what was required when the property was built 15 years ago), and it "must now comply with CURRENT building regs" which is 250mm!
    It ignored the fact that 1/2 the loft was boarded and all of it was stuffed full of bags of clothes by the tenant.
    An "Excess Cold" notice has to be complied with within a certain time or the council can carry out the works themselves and bill the landlord.
    Thankfully the tenant decided to move on when it was explained that she would have to remove all her stuff from the loft, and would not be abe to reuse it once the new insulation had been installed as she would not be able to see the joists. ;-)