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Green Homes Grant farce - landlords may throw in the towel

A call has gone out for the overhaul of the Green Homes Grant scheme, which so far has left thousands of landlords and owner occupiers without hoped-for funding for energy improvements. 

As part of its Net Zero greenhouse gas target for 2050, the government is proposing to increase the required Energy Performance Certificate for private rented homes from the current E to a C for all new tenancies by April 2025, and for all existing tenancies by 2028.

The Green Homes Grant system was seen as the key provider for this measure for landlords. However, delivery hitches have led to the entire scheme falling into disrepute. 

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The Times has been told the scheme has so far issued only 22,165 grants out of a target 600,000 and is likely to end imminently - some time in March, this month.

It was launched in September and Prime Minister Boris Johnson recently pledged to extend it, rather than scrap it, as part of his 10 point plan to tackle climate change. And a survey from the National Residential Landlords Association suggests 43 per cent of landlords are interested in applying for a grant.

However, over the weekend Angus Stewart - chief executive of online buy to let mortgage broker Property Master - has called on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to offer more support to landlords in Wednesday’s Budget. 

"We are very concerned about the noises we are hearing from landlords in respect of the forthcoming changes to the energy efficiency rules and the lack of finance to fund the improvements they will need to make” says Stewart.  

 

“Given that 67 per cent of private rented homes currently fall short of what the government is proposing, the race is on for landlords to find the money and tradespeople to do the necessary work.

“In a recent survey of a sample of our customers only 13 per cent thought the government’s new targets for private rented homes were achievable. Around a third thought the cost to them of meeting the new targets would be between £5,000 and £10,000 per property.  

“We welcomed the setting up by the government of the Green Homes Grant scheme, but funding is capped at £5,000 per property and applying for a grant is difficult and locating an approved tradesperson to do the work is not easy.

“We are asking that in his Budget the Chancellor looks at what more financial help can be made available to help landlords who want to meet the climate change challenge. Otherwise, our fear is that the number of homes for rent could fall as landlords throw in the towel." 

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    If you, like me, think that going from an EPC E to a C under the current assessment is virtually impossible please sign my petition. You can find it on the Petitions website, number 559700.

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    Hi Tricia. I have gone onto the government petitions website and cannot find it to sign. Would you have a link please?

     
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    Links can't be posted here but if you google Govt Petitions 559700 it should pop up, or on the petitions website put EPC in the search box. Thanks.

     
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    My builder told me not to do anything yet. He says the current available external cladding is not suitable for my Victorian terraces, and it looks terrible anyway. I've been told that the current assessment methods under-estimate the actual efficiency of these properties and proposed solutions do not take into account the fundamental design which needs the walls to be breathable to avoid condensation.

  • Andrew McCausland

    I am a landlord but also run a building company that are about to offer work under the green homes grant scheme. I think the idea behind it is great but the design and implementation of the scheme is flawed for several reasons:

    1. Governments own analysis suggests the average cost to landlords will be £4,800 per property to upgrade to EPR C, much more if your properties have solid walls (see the link at assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/932403/prs-epc-c-consultation-stage-ia.pdf). A £5k grant is useful but LL will always end up having to pay out.

    2. Achieving EPR C is a perverse incentive; the LL pay the cost but the tenants get the benefits through lower energy bills. The GHG does not overcome this issue and the comments in the report about the LL benefitting from having an improved quality of property do not hold much sway, IMO.

    3. The GHG system is too complicated for fitters to access and manage without substantial outlay in time and money. It is not a matter of just getting Trustmark registered, we also have to qualify for and manage PAS2030:2019 and buy in a compatible QMS to run things. It will cost my company over £15k to do this for the full range of insulation measures, plus an annual fee on top of that to remain registered.

    4. The scheme is overly complicated for both applicants (property owners) and fitters. Yes, there needs to be checks on the quality of the work and anti-fraud measures. However, the current system is so bureaucratic that it deters people from getting involved.

    5. Payments to fitters are too slow, again deterring smaller companied form getting involved.

    The scheme was launched quickly to give a boost to the building industry and help landlords. It can work, but it does need pretty substantial reform to work well.

    The good news is that this reform to the grant system can be easily achieved and doing so will get many more builders involved. Without it, or a similar scheme in the very near future, we have no chance of achieving the carbon reduction targets we have already enshrined in law.

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    I agree with what you say but you missed out that it was outsourced to a US company - how ridiculous was that!

     
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