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Think tank blasts landlords for not paying for better insulation

A think tank is accusing landlords of being unwilling to spend money on insulating draughty rental properties.

The cross-party Social Market Foundation claims 60 per cent of landlords are unwilling to commit over £250 towards the costs of improving the energy efficiency of a rented property.

The SMF says government targets to decarbonize homes are likely to fail if politicians cannot ensure private rented sector landlords do more to better insulate rented homes.

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Polling for the SMF asked landlords and homeowners how much they were willing to pay out of their own pockets towards a government-discounted insulation upgrade.

Homeowners were more willing than landlords to say they would contribute. Some 41 per cent of homeowners said they would contribute more than £500 to state-funded energy efficiency work on their property, but only 30 per cent of landlords said the same.

The foundation claims that 60 per cent of private rented sector homes have an EPC rating of D or below, and says: “That means understanding how to encourage the private rented sector to make energy efficiency upgrades should now be a key focus of climate policy.”

Previous SMF work on the private rented sector has found that just over half of renters dislike being unable to make energy efficiency improvements to the home, rising to three in five among parents.

The SMF says it’s going to conduct a series of focus groups and interviews of the different groups throughout the spring “to better understand barriers to home energy efficiency upgrade.”

Niamh O Regan, a researcher at the Social Market Foundation, says: “Too many British homes have poor energy efficiency, so the people who live in them are poorer and colder than they should be. And too many of those homes are rented out by landlords who aren’t willing to make their properties less draughty.

“Given the continuing growth of the private rented sector, the reluctance of many landlords to take action on energy efficiency is now a significant threat to Britain’s carbon reduction targets. 

“The politicians who rightly see Net Zero as key to our future should be working urgently on new measures to ensure rented properties become warmer and cheaper and more energy efficient.”

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    Within my group of domestic and commercial landlord associates, everyone of us has taken action to invest back into our rental units to improve energy efficiency and drive down energy running costs for tenants. You would have to be an incredibly stupid landlord to have failed to do this. I have no idea where SMF have got their data. Improving your asset's EPC is basic as investing back into say installing a new kitchen, ensuring guttering is repaired, repointing brickwork or fitting in a fresh bathroom. Ensuring a rental unit is well insulated and has modern/efficient building services improves rents, yields, long term value and reduces borrowing costs. I've already got my domestic rental stock to EPC Grade C and the plan/finance in place to get the commercial units up to EPC Grade B within the next couple of years. I have no idea who these '60% of landlords' are that SMF are banging on about but they must be fools. Slowly but surely they are having their wealth removed from them by legislation and the market.

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    The think tank needs to do some more thinking. They don’t seem to understand that firstly only the government is obsessed with net zero, the sane amongst us understand it will only make us all poor for a negligible affect on the environment. Also they don’t seem to have thought through (not sure why they called a think tank) that landlords will not be interested in spending thousands on insulation for the property because the government has leeched away most of the profit from renting out properties - so why would they want to then spend that to satisfy a goalpost moving agenda?
    Thirdly they don’t seem at all bothered about government properties, or privately owned properties - think tank? They clearly went into this research knowing roughly what the outcome would be and the spin they would then put on the, ahem, “results”.

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    Perhaps when the EPC assessment is a fair, clear & true reflection of a properties energy efficiency & the recommendations are sensible & affordable LLs will begin to take action.

    Perhaps when all housing stock have to achieve the same standards LLs will not feel they are being unfairly picked on.

    Perhaps when the Govt & LAs stop picking money from LLs pockets there will be some left over to pay for improvements.

    Perhaps pigs will fly!

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    When your EPC "consultant"? recommends work costing over £30,000 to reduce your property from a D to a C for an energy saving of £100 PA. Why would you bother with this madness. I just sold it instead.

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    I'm busy doing what I can as and when like upgrading loft insulation whenever I'm doing other work in order to minimise disruption. But If and when the legislation comes in, I will sell any properties that can't be reasonably upgraded.
    I suspect in several years' time government will realise at the 11th hour that they will have to step in with massive support so that landlords don't have to sell up and evict en masse. Except it will probably be too late for many.

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    I also am happy to increase loft insulation when I have a void, also to fit LED lighting, easy cheap things to do, spending thousands I'm not going to do until forced, and even then likely not

     
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    Insulation has often been installed by cowboys and can cause damp problems.
    I own an ex Council maisonette that the council installed fibre cavity wall insulation in before I bought it. That building has a water ingress problem, the insulation is wringing wet and damp seeps through into the lounge. It's on a program to have it removed and replaced with bead type insulation but there are thousands of properties on that list and they have recently told me mine is several years away. So it looks like I'm going to have to either hack off the plaster and tank the room or pvc clad it. Either way it's a chunky expense only incurred because the freeholder installed the wrong insulation.

    I have had loft and cavity wall insulation installed under grant schemes and in both cases have been left with a completely fictious EPCs much lower than it should be. In order for the companies to claim payment under the scheme they have churned out fraudulent EPCs up to 10 points below the previous one (E47 instead of the previous D57 in one case). Then they don't issue a correct one after the work is done.
    They also didn't fully do the work they were supposed to do. One property was supposed to have loft and cavity wall insulation but when they turned up the installation team decided there weren't enough cavity walls to make it worth setting up their equipment so only did the loft. The other one did the walls but decided there wasn't enough loft to bother with, so I finished up doing that one myself. So you pay the grant contribution and only get half the work done.
    There's currently no reason for me to pay for a proper assessor to issue a correct EPC on one of those properties so it can stay as being registered as an E for another 2 years. How many hundreds of thousands of properties currently have completely wrong EPC scores registered? Either accidentally because the assessors abilities vary or downright fraudulently because of how the insulation grant schemes worked?

    Other types of insulation such as underfloor or flat roof insulation have almost never been encompassed by the grant schemes. I hate to think how much Celotex I've bought over the years to insulate flat roofs or to use internally with suspended ceilings.

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    Jo - open a Skipton savings account (pretty good rates & no minimum) & then get upto 10 free EPCs. I have had free EPCs on the properties where my EPC is out of date or I don't have one post upgrades so at least the EPC now reflects the work done.

     
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    Tricia
    Thanks for the tip. It looks like a very interesting offer.

     
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    Another reason for wrong EPCs to the two you stated in your penultimate paragraph Jo is: even if there is a poor rated >10 years old 'expired' EPC, you don't have to get a new one unless the tenancy agreement has been renewed. (Two different agents got that wrong and told me I needed a new EPC.) But you probably know that, just didn't say it.
    So longstanding tenants have a 10+ year old poor EPC, even though they know I have upgraded the insulation to more than was assessed long ago and so aren't bothered by it.

    Additionally, some old EPCs were done with inaccurate assumptions (they didn't bother to check properly, as clear from the EPC report). because at that time the Govt. requirement was only to have an EPC, no matter what the EPC grade was (Govt. assumed renters and buyers would decide for themselves). Quick and poor EPCs, were cheapest, and enticing as part of a 'tick box' approach by the then agents (I was in more than full-time work then, so had to leave it to them). So as the tenancy agreement hasn't changed since it expired, this is still the valid EPC.

    Sad/worrying to hear of all those insulation problems. Hope my British Gas free cavity fibre insulation of a few years back doesn't lead to the same. At the time I didn't know about the bead alternative, which wasn't on offer (did the installers, but not say or offer me that?). I had to lick the installers up on bits of wall they missed: a bit more effort for them.

     
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    I installed some Celotex in my own home. Some years later, after the Grenfell fire, I tried burning a very small sample. The acrid smoke persuaded me to remove all the Celotex and replace it with Rockwool.

     
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    I tried to open a new savings account online with Skipton yesterday but had to ring them and spend an hour passing the ID checks and setting the account up and making the first payment into it. It pays 1.1% under the base rate, so 3.4% currently and is instant access ( assuming that I can access it online now it's set up) but the 10 free EPC's make it the best return of any of my various savings accounts as there is no minimum balance required to qualify for these EPC'S and presumably if the guidelines change the EPC can be repeated assuming all 10 haven't been used up?
    Thanks for the tip Tricia.

     
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    I'll look into the Skipton a/c, the only 'but' for me is who will carry out the EPCs ? will we be able to use our normal assessor or will we need to use one appointed by Skipton, EPCs can vary a lot between assessors, this would be a concern for me, but yes thanks Tricia

     
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    The environmental lobby have missed one big thing (in my eyes) at least with most student rentals -these are now rented bills inclusive which means alot of student tenants leave lights on, put the heating up really high all the time whilst windows are open etc. I don't think it matter how much you triple glaze and insulate walls and roofs whilst these all inclusive deals result in tenants wasting energy through this type of negligence.

  • George Dawes

    Is think tank Cockney rhyming slang ?

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