The UK Government’s energy policy is failing older houses across the British countryside by giving home owners inaccurate information and encouraging damaging retrofits on homes built before 1919, it is claimed.
From 01 April 2018 it will be illegal for a private landlord to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant and from 01 April 2020 this will apply to all existing tenancies.
These regulations, commonly known as the minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) are causing concern across the private rented sector but they are set to have a particular impact on older rural property, according to the Country Landowners Association (CLA).
It says in a new report that despite coming into force in just over one year’s time, the Government has not yet confirmed how these confusing regulations will work and which properties are included.
The CLA, whose members provide around 40% of all private rented housing in the countryside, said a Government review to rectify mistakes which have incorrectly penalised traditionally constructed homes mean around 100,000 older houses will score a higher EPC rating than before.
However, it is unclear whether reform of these inaccuracies will happen before the 2018 deadline, leading to up to one third of private rented homes potentially becoming incorrectly illegal to let.
‘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,’ said CLA president Ross Murray.
‘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 explained.
‘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,’ he pointed out.
‘We support the principles behind the MEES regulations but there are substantial flaws which left unaddressed, have the potential to damage homes, cause disruption in the rental market and fail to achieve the Government’s energy efficiency objectives,’ he added.
To address the concerns of home owners and landlords of older houses built before 1919, the CLA is calling on the Government to review the EPC so recommendations do not damage traditional properties and base EPC calculations on energy use not fuel price.
It also suggests that there should be comparison between similar property types, full reform of ratings methodology, suppliers forced to register heating systems, remove confusion over the exemption of listed building, reinstate tax relief for energy efficient investments and delay the implementation of MEES by one year.