Flawed energy efficiency rules threaten investment in thousands of old rural homes

01 March 2017

Thousands of privately rented homes in the countryside face being made incorrectly illegal to let as inaccuracies, delays and mistakes plague government energy efficiency policies.

In The Retrofit-Up, a new report published today (1 March) the CLA sets out how government energy policy is failing older houses across the British countryside by giving homeowners inaccurate information on the energy efficiency of their properties and encouraging damaging retrofits on homes built before 1919.

From 1 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 1 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. 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.

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.

“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. 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.”

To address the concerns of homeowners and landlords of older houses built before 1919, the CLA is calling on the Government to:

1. Review the EPC so recommendations do not damage traditional properties

2. Base EPC calculations on energy use not fuel price

3. Compare similar property types

4. Implement full reform of ratings methodology

5. Force suppliers to register heating systems

6. Provide consumer choice

7. Delay implementation of MEES by one year

8. Confirm the £5,000 cost cap

9. Remove all confusion over exemption of listed buildings

10. Reinstate tax reliefs for energy efficient investments

Click here or on the icon below to read The Retrofit-Up - How Government energy policy is failing older houses across the British countryside