Government Energy Policy Fails Rural Landlords

The new energy policy from the UK Government is failing older properties in the British countryside by issuing inaccurate information to homeowners.

From the 1st April 2018 it will be illegal for private landlords to rent out properties with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant. From the 1st April 2020 this will be applicable to all existing tenancies.

These regulations have caused widespread concern across the private rental sector, having had particular impact on older rural property, according to the Country Landowners Association. A report from the Association said that despite the imminence of the regulation coming into practice, the Government has yet to confirm how they will work and which properties will be included.

Members of the CLA, who provide around 40 per cent of all private rented housing in the countryside, have called for a Government review to revise mistakes which incorrectly penalised traditionally constructed homes. The error will result in around 100,000 older properties scoring a higher EPC rating than before. However, it is currently unclear as to whether the problem will be resolved before the 2018 deadline. This could lead to up to a third of private rental properties becoming falsely illegal to let.

The CLA is calling for the Government to review the EPC, basing calculations on energy use not fuel price. It also suggested a comparison between similar property types and a full reform of ratings methodology.

CLA president Ross Murray, said: ‘Uncertainty over how the Government intend the MEES regulations to work, the failure of the EPC to accurately assess older homes and the potentially damaging impact of some energy efficiency improvement recommendations constitutes a perfect storm not just for rural landlords but all owners of old houses. We want to encourage better investment in the rural private rented sector to provide safe, warm homes. But to ensure all property owners are channelling the right kind of investment into the right type of improvements, we want to see the methodology used for assessing energy efficiency urgently reformed so it does not discriminate against or recommend inappropriate retrofits for old rural properties.’

He continued: ‘Rural landlords are in a very difficult situation. It is scandalous to have this level of uncertainty with just over a year to the deadline, especially with such an acute shortage of rented properties in rural areas.’

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