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Warning over cowboy builders exploiting Green Homes Grant

Landlords considering taking advantage of the government’s new Green Homes Grant are being warned of a surge in cowboy building works.

Sheffield based SSB Law, a dispute resolution firm specialising in professional negligence, has seen an influx in breach of contract and negligence claims as a result of a previous government scheme and now believes the short six month timeframe under the new Green Homes Grant could lead to some tradesmen cashing in.

The firm has revealed that The Energy Companies Obligation Government Scheme, which launched in 2013, led to a surge in defective works for cavity wall insulation and solar panel installation. 


A survey has suggested that approximately 43 per cent of the 14m homes which had cavity wall insulation fitted as part of the scheme were found to have had defective works carried out, and have since been affected by damp as a consequence of the suspected negligence. 

Repairs can cost between £25,000 to £130,000 and in some cases, entire walls have had to be removed, cleaned and rebuilt, and the lack of suitable monitoring and auditing of the works ultimately led to an investigation into Ofgem’s handling of the scheme.

Now Jeremy Brooke, SSB Law’s chief executive, has warned that the government’s new energy efficiency drive may produce a repeat result.

Under the government’s new Green Homes Grant, which launched last month, landlords and owner-occupiers in England can apply for grants of up to £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient including the fitting of cavity wall or loft insulation, solar thermal panels or double or triple glazing. 

The £2 billion scheme will support more than 600,000 homes before it closes on March 31 next year.

“The six month timeframe for this scheme is much too short, and will undoubtedly put pressure on tradespeople to take advantage of the increase in jobs available, especially in the current economic climate” warns Brooke.

“This limited time frame is unfair on the majority who perform their work well and to high standards but need time to complete works effectively and correctly. As a result, I fear that many unscrupulous businesses may enter the industry for the sole aim of rushing jobs through and cashing in on the scheme.”

“If we see the same rate of defective works as in previous schemes, we could be looking at over 25,000 homes which will be impacted. As negligent home improvement work and the subsequent damage is often only noticeable after several years, or comes to fruition after severe weather, many homeowners may simply be unaware they are living in damaged or dangerous property.”


Brooke wants Ofgem and the government to ensure that the correct measures are taken tp ensure no repeat of previous problems. 

“I also urge homeowners themselves to triple check the qualifications and standards of tradespeople they hire, and insist on the required pre-installation surveys to be carried out before any work is agreed” he adds.

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    Given that LLs need to get their properties up to higher EPC ratings using the GHG to do so is a no brainer. Because of the way this scheme has been put together there is no opportunity to 'choose' your contractor - you are limited to the one you can get to quote! So LLs are between a rock & a hard place - do I do the work and risk using a cowboy or miss the opportunity to benefit from this scheme, without which the costs of many improvements are prohibitive?

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    These government grants are a waste of time, always have been and so is this one.

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    • 08 December 2020 08:19 AM

    As it is insisted by the Govt. All that will happen from my perspective, is that somehow, ALL the extra costs to increase the EPC will be charged onto tenants. Just the same as any business that has increasing costs, will get passed on to customers.

    The same remains in the LL business.
    It is no different from Unilever, BMW, Tesco..... et al.........

    Matthew Fine

    David it sounds like you increase your rent every week due to Government initiatives, what a delightful landlord you must be!


    Matthew, don't all businesses increase their charges when costs increase ?

    Matthew Fine

    Andrew, good responsible landlords try and increase there rent on rent review dates, not every day as Mr Crisp alouds to.


    Matthew, we are only allowed to increase rent once per year for an excising tenant, the only other way we can increase rent is to agree and sign a new tenancy agreement, personally I access all the increased costs over the past yr than increase the rent to cover, I thought we all done this.

  • Andrew McCausland

    There are substantial design differences between this and the previous grant schemes specifically to prevent the sort of problems the author discusses. All GHG fitters must be both Trustmark Registered (to prove they are reputable companies and with a dispute resolution process) and PAS2030:2017 qualified (to prove they have the ability to complete the works to standard).

    There will no doubt be problems with some of the installations on a scheme this large but they will be nothing like the problems experienced with the green deal. The author needs to fully examine the GHG process to see the marked differences between the 2.

    As a LL it is a no-brainer, as a previous poster said. MEES will change from EPR E to EPR C by 2030, and there is active discussion to bring this forward to 2025. The governments own assessment is that it will cost the average LL £4,700 PER PROPERTY to achieve this increase in energy efficiency.

    For details see - "Consultation document on improving the energy efficiency of privately rented homes in England and Wales."



    In my experience, the best local tradesmen don't get involved with any such schemes and the cowboys pile in and inflate their quotes to negate any benefit of any grants. This happened in the last Green Deal debacle and will happen again now. Government interference just puts up costs and only benefit the cowboys.

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    • 08 December 2020 14:21 PM

    I only ever increase my rental figures if outside influences cause me to make the increases,
    such as Govt. action, Local Authorities ridiculous plans and ideas to screw more money out of me.

    Or another example is if contractors start to increase their fees, then by definition, I am FORCED to increase my rents.

    Over the years, the rents I charge have only ever been increased by these external issues. Inflation included.

    And of course the administation fees that are caused by the external outrageous money grabs from Government and Council thieving ideas, Local Housing Authorities and Letting Agent fees......etc.

    I assume then Mathew that you NEVER increase your rents?

    PS: I do also add a 15% administration fee every time I am inconvenienced by these ridiculous and inefective plans.

    I assume that one day these so called clever bastsa*s will understand that the only thing they are doing, is making it all so much more worse for the people they are reputidly trying to help. The Tenants.

    Matthew Fine

    See above for my reply.

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    • 08 December 2020 14:34 PM

    Stupid comment.....When have I increased my rents daily?

    But if I get increased costs then yes, I do.

    Just, as I say so do the likes of Unilever, Tesco, Water Authorities, Government pay increases.

    It is, if you like it or not, a function of all business.

    Or are you trying to say I should never increase my rental fees?

    If I had done that, I would reckon then that over the the last 20 years or so, then one of my 4 bedroom detached houses would now be rented out for about £750 pcm? Good idea!!!!! NOT

    I assume too that is the way you operate?

    A great way to run my business. I think I will now toddle off and go and bankrupt myself. BYEEEEE!!!


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