Realistic EPC targets must be set for PRS

From Robert Ulph on December 17, 2021

In August the government introduced the Minimum Energy Efficiency of Buildings Bill, as part of its strategy to target poorly performing housing stock in the fight against climate change. The private rented sector obviously falls into the plans, but now from the latest analysis into what this means in terms of cost and responsibilities many are asking if the targets are realistic.

Current legislation in England and Wales requires buy to let properties to have at least an EPC rating of E. However, to improve the energy efficiency, the government wants to increase the requirement to a C for all new tenancies by 2025 and for all existing tenancies by 2028. 

The increase is seen to be a dramatic rise and latest research from The Mortgage Works reveals that due to concerns around being able to be complete or finance the work to the new required standards, over half of landlords surveyed have thought about selling some or all of their properties. Propertymark has called on the government urging them to set out more realistic targets. 

“As domestic energy use accounts for 14% of overall UK emissions and 90% of homes in England currently use fossil fuels – improving the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock is one of the most significant challenges in reaching net zero emissions,” stated Timothy Douglas, Propertymark policy and campaigns manager. “The private rented sector has its part to play, but in recent years, landlords have faced considerable legislative change, and during a time of financial strain due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which will continue to have lasting effects, the costs of bringing housing stock up to EPC Band C will be a significant challenge for many.”

“If the alarming number of landlords who have considered selling up within The Mortgage Works report go on to do so, it will have a detrimental effect on not only the UK government’s ambitions to reach Net Zero, but also for thousands of renters looking to be housed as stock levels deplete.”

Propertymark say that there must be realistic and achievable targets that take into account the diverse housing stock across the country, and importantly give incentives and funding options that landlords can access otherwise the minimum energy efficiency proposals are unlikely to be met. There are huge benefits to having an energy efficient property but the significant rise from making the jump from a minimum of an EPC E rated property to a C rating and what that could involve cost wise cannot be forced to the jeopardy of the sector. It must be viable for private landlords to continue to offer the much-needed housing they do.

I will keep you up to date with what happens, in the meantime, if you have questions on this or require any advice on the local property market, please do not hesitate to contact me as I am always happy to help.