Energy efficiency consultation launches and green homes grants introduced

NRLA deputy director of policy Meera Chindooroy writes about new Green Homes Grants that are available to landlords and a new consultation on minimum energy efficiency standards.

Today, the Government has launched its consultation on the next phase of energy efficiency measures in the private rented sector.

They propose introducing new minimum standards in England and Wales, with properties needing an EPC rating of C or higher from April 2025 for new tenancies and from 2028 for existing tenancies.

In addition, their recommendation is that the cost cap is raised to £10,000 per property.

Both measures would be significant increases from the current Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard of an E rating with a maximum cost of £3,500 per property.

Stick, and a carrot?

However, alongside the consultation, the Government is also launching its Green Homes Grants. Initially announced over the summer, grants of up to £5,000 are available for private landlords to upgrade their properties in England.

Grants will be issued as vouchers, cover up to two-thirds of costs, and are available for specific measures.

Works must be undertaken by a Trustmark registered installer, and include a ‘primary measure’ of either insulation or low-carbon heating, such as a ground or air source heat pump, before ‘secondary measures’, such as replacement of windows and doors or draught proofing can be funded. You can see more about the grants here and you can read the full guidance and apply via the gov.uk website.

The grants are currently only available until 31 March 2021 – so landlords need to be proactive now and access the grants if they can.

The Government is clear that they will be increasing the requirement of the private rented sector, as part of their legal commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

With housing accounting for around one-fifth of the UK’s emissions, it is a key sector for meeting this target.

What landlords need to do

Whatever the outcome of the consultation – and it closes on 30th December 2020, so any new laws likely won’t be passed before the end of March next year – the direction of travel is clear. Landlords must accelerate the upgrade of their properties.

The Government is looking to move to ‘low carbon-heat ready’ in the private rented sector by 2030, which means making as many changes to the fabric of buildings as is possible in anticipation of the phasing out of gas boilers, as has already been announced for new-build properties.

We have consistently called for further funding to be made available to the sector to encourage landlords to go above and beyond the legal minimum.

That funding is now available – and the Simple Energy Advice website will provide a clear guide as to what upgrades are eligible for the Green Homes Grants, as well as other sources such as ECO funding and local grants.

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