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Offset EPC improvements against landlord income - plea to government

A new study claims that two thirds of privately rented homes require urgent energy efficiency improvements - and that landlords need financial and expert help on making the right choices to boost EPC ratings.

The report - from British Gas - reveals that 81 per cent of landlords believe improvements are required to make their property more environmentally friendly, yet only 23 per cent would make these improvements.

The private rental sector makes up around 19 per cent of all UK households - that about 4.6m privately rented units - and falls behind owner-occupied and social rented sectors when it comes to low carbon heating solutions. British Gas calculates that nearly two-thirds of private rented homes require energy efficiency improvements like low-carbon heating and smart technology installations.

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The report found that 56 per cent landlords are concerned about the environment and think the UK government and public generally are taking too little action to address climate change. However, they remain unconvinced that making environmental improvements will benefit their property and its rental value.

British Gas claims that one of the main barriers for landlords upgrading their properties comes from a lack of knowledge around EPC standards, with 44 per cent of respondents not knowing their EPC rating. However, the requirement for the EPC rating to be E or higher has already been in place since April 2020.

Additionally, two thirds of those surveyed either don’t know or have overestimated the average cost of bringing a property up to EPC C standard, which had previously been a target for rental homes before tPrime Minister Rishi Sunak changed Net Zero policies in September 2023. 

The cost of bringing a property up to this standard is estimated to be £7,430. There is also a lack of knowledge about the grants available with 52 per cent of those surveyed stating that they do not know enough about their options.

Gail Parker, director of low carbon homes at British Gas, says: ”This report shows that whilst landlords across the UK are willing to make changes so that their properties are more energy efficient for tenants, they lack the knowledge and financial support to do so. It's key that we work with the government and the industry to ensure they have the ability to make these changes easily and affordably. We are calling for more focus to be made on the issue to help make homes more energy efficient for everybody, not just people who own their own properties.”

Another barrier in landlords upgrading their homes comes from the miscommunication about what their tenants want. 

The study suggests that landlords think that tenants don’t find these improvements attractive, despite nearly half of tenants considering a lack of green practices to be a deal breaker when choosing a property. Only 30 per cent of landlords report receiving requests from tenants for green technology and of the tenants that had made a request, landlords were responsive to these requests with the majority - 61 per cent - making an installation as a result.

In addition, most landlords think it is their responsibility alone or it is a shared responsibility between the landlord and government to pay for environmental improvements, and don’t think should be the tenant’s responsibility. 

In response to the findings, British Gas is recommending to government that it should: 

- introduce a Green Upgrade Relief which allows landlords to deduct green improvements from their annual income;

- introduce government-kitemarked loan terms for private lenders to offer low and no interest loans partially funded by the UK Infrastructure Bank;

- launch a one-stop shop for advice and guidance service from Energy Saving Trust modelled upon Scotland’s Home Energy service, something British Gas and Barclays have started by launching a series of free events to help Plymouth residents explore how to make their homes more energy efficient;

- start the data-gathering process to implement Building Passports for individual properties;

- update the Renters Reform Bill so landlords cannot reasonably refuse smart meter installation, to strengthen renters’ rights and awareness of rights.

British Gas’ Gail Parker continues; “With energy efficiency, it’s critical  we find the right solutions for each home so that we can lower emissions and help customers to make savings on their bills. Landlords can use our home health check which will allow them to see what they can do to bring their home's efficiency to a better standard and equip them with the knowledge they need ahead of making any green changes.

“The recent update to the government grant for heat pumps rising from £5,000 to £7,500 in England, has made it more accessible for people to upgrade homes. At British Gas, we will also continue to reassure customers with our best price heat pump offering that’s guaranteed to heat homes as efficiently as a gas boiler. This year, we also launched a new suite of Net Zero services to support customers in solar, insulation, home energy efficiency and electric vehicle charging.“

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    It really is a national disgrace that some PRS landlords have not improved their rental units and made them fit-for-purpose. We've had the accurate EPC national measurement system firmly in place for 15 years. We've had the Conservative's excellent Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) in place since 2015 but still some naive landlords do nothing to improve their assets. It's not difficult.

    1. You put 2 x layers of new Rockwool in the loft and padlock the hatch shut so the tenant cannot crush the insulation with their suitcases
    2. You insulate the walls - external insulation and new render like Housing Associations have been doing to thousands of their units over many years. Or get a handyman to add a 5cm sheet of Celotex to the INSIDE of any walls facing the outside world. 5cm on ONE wall really doesn't make the room much smaller !
    3. Install an electric heat pump using the £7,500 of FREE MONEY from the Government via great schemes run by British Gas, Octopus Energy etc etc. The heat pump from Octopus called the Cosy 6 even looks quite attractive.
    4. If you are refurbing whilst the unit is vacant then get some insulation under the ground-floor floor boards.
    5. Install a simple Nuaire Drimaster Heat ventilation unit that totally eliminates condensation, damp and mould forever. Again, Housing Associations have installed thousands of these low-cost devices to make their houses and flat decent for their tenants
    6. Before you do the above works get a domestic energy assessor to survey the house/flat and provide you with a draft 'predicted' EPC that shows a Running Cost EPC of Grade C and a CO2 pollution EPC of Grade C (this is called an Environmental Impact Grade on the certificate - all EPCs come with TWO EPC Grades)
    It's all COMMON SENSE.

    I expect this post will be followed by a few puerile comments from folk who I doubt really are serious, long-term landlords.

    Richard LeFrak

    HERE HE IS........!!!!!!!!! Jonny 5 IS ALIVE!

     
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    Gibbons gibberish again.

     
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    very helpful.

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    Yes I always hit report when I see the drivel this fake Landlord puts on here.

     
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    Home Owners are even less aware of what should be done & how to do it than LLs! Most retrofitting is very difficult to do with occupants in situ &/ or very expensive. The best time to retrofit is when the house has a major refurb, but for many houses this never happens.

    And try to get a heat pump installer! In Nottingham I contacted 7 or 8 & can't get anyone to even come & talk to me about installation!

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    5cm on an outside wall. Yeah right. You will need a gap between wall and insulation, due to condensation. Plus, plasterboard and then you have the extra work of putting new skirting board etc.
    I'm not against doing the work, but say it how it is.
    I've put outside a rain shelter with clothes line and encourage the tenants to put laundry outside, including wet towels, thus far working wonders. Much cheaper and no electricity use. This is on an older house.

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    Andy, 50mm celotex is standard post fit insulation for older 9" solid wall construction and can be dabbed on, although I do batton mine. You only get condensation when warm moist air hits a cold surface. The face adjacent to the brickwork will be just as cold as the brickwork, no condensation there.

     
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    You also have to remove & replace skirting & redo any electrical before skimming & redecorating. Hard to do with tenants in place.

     
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    I understand the principle of condensation against an cold surface. However, when I have taken down walls with celotex dobbed and dabbed against an outside wall I've found loads of mould due to cold stagnant air which gets through. Re-fitting with metal battons and being 50mm off the wall gave me zero mould, though the metal did have a little rust, mainly at the bottom. This was on a French house, 17th century which I was renovating. I know which way I will be doing it in the future.
    I would add it's all well and good in theory but you cannot beat experience.

     
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    Andy. I must confess I've never stripped out work that I have done on walls so I've taken note of your comments, although it sounds like you may have a rising damp issue as well. I have stripped out tiled wetroom floors and found the substrate wet, mouldy and utterly disgusting. Some don't realise that grout is only water proof, not water tight. But I must add that the whole issue of insulation is a lot more involved than what some think, including our beloved government.

     
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    Thank you for your reply. I don't discount your comment with some rising damp, I would also add that though the walls are in places almost 2 feet thick it is possible some moisture could have come through the solid walls. I had an old boy of a builder whom had enlightened me, sadly passed away now.

     
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    British Gas Boss tried to Defend Record Profit as the Charity predicts tough Winter ahead for families.
    Amid claims of 5’000 deaths related to Bill Stress for 2022/23.
    Well just reduce your Charges then with Record profits instead, instead of getting your girl to write stories.

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    I know what they want me to do, but the gentleman is not for turning, you turn if you wish too 😂😂😂. I am doing bugg** all but selling if this nonsense comes back.

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    I like the bit about put it against the income, how many snouts are in the trough already, many struggling to keep the Banks at bay.

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    The costs are very high in relation to the benefits. Upper D is a possibility with roof insulation, good condensing boiler, internal insulation of walls and floors but not practical for every let property with the occupants.

  • George Dawes

    Good Morning ,Martin :)

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    Firstly the EPC algorithm needs improving so we all have a robust, accurate and credible baseline to work to.

    Second, they should have gone from EPC letter E to D and not the huge leap that a grade C requires!

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    I would add using your energy wisely. Ensuring you've eliminated draughts. Heavy curtains for winter. Heavy curtain against the front/back door. All good cheap practical measures which will improve keeping the heat in your home and not make money for people in the industry, what do you say Mr Gibbons?

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