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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Tough EPC targets to return despite Sunak’s U-turn - new warning

There’s a warning this morning that stricter Energy Performance Certificate measures for the private rental sector may not have gone, after all.

Back in September Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced that the government was scrapping plans to force landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties, following revelations that many would have to spend tens of thousands of pounds to meet targets. At the same time, Sunak raised the Boiler Upgrade Grant by 50 per cent to £7,500 to help households who want to replace their gas boilers with a low-carbon alternative like a heat pump - while at the same time delaying the ban on installing oil and LPG boilers, and new coal heating, for off-gas-grid homes to 2035, instead of phasing them out from 2026. 

The measures were greeted with a sigh of relief by most of the rental sector, but now Rightmove says the picture is not so rosy. 

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The portal’s General Counsel David Cox - at one time a prominent figure in lettings agent body ARLA - says: “It’s likely that EPC requirements in some form will re-appear in the near future, so landlords with lower EPC rated homes should still keep this in mind and consider the improvements they might make. However with the deadline scrapped and all the attention on the Renters’ Reform Bill, it may be that while focusing on the changes the Bill brings in, considerations about green improvements take a back seat for some landlords.”

In a recent Rightmove survey amongst landlords, a quarter said they planned to make energy efficiency improvements to properties rated below a C, compared to over a third last year. Similarly, of those landlords who have properties below a C, 21 per cent now say they plan to sell them, compared with 33 per cent in April 2023.

Cox continues:  “The Renters’ Reform Bill is now going ahead after several delays this year, though the earliest it’s likely to come into effect is the end of next year, and a general election could add further complications. Above all else letting agents and landlords want clarity, so that they can plan for the future and agents can provide the right guidance. The rental sector is filled with legislation and compliance requirements that agents and landlords need to keep up with, and so the earlier they understand the final contents of the Bill, the better they can prepare.”

Other experts at Rightmove have given their forecasts for major trends in the private rental sector in 2024.

One area of likely controversy is rents. Rightmove predicts these to be five per cent higher by the end of 2024 outside of London, and three per cent higher in London. This is despite the fact the currently a single renter with an average salary spends 51 per cent of their take-home salary on a typical rental home, compared to 49 per cent this time last year, and 46 per cent in 2019.

Rightmove lettings expert Christian Balshen says: “Many tenants will have a cap on what they can or are prepared to pay in rent, and an increasing number of landlords are having to reduce their advertised rent, suggesting more are reaching this cap. It will be vital for landlords to work closely with a local letting agent this year, who will be an expert in the dynamics of their local area, to help them to find the right tenant at the right rent for their local area.”

And the portal says that although there continues to be far more renters looking to move than homes available, the gap between supply and demand in the rental market improved throughout 2023.

Each home that an average letting agent advertises currently receives 11 enquiries from renters, compared to 14 at this time last year. Enquiries are typically lower in the winter months compared to the summer – this figure was 25 enquiries per property in August 2023. At the same time, mortgage rates have been slowly trending downwards, with the average five-year fixed mortgage rate now below five per cent for the first time since June.

However, the portal anticipates that mortgage rates are likely to remain high this year, and saving up a deposit continues to be a challenge for would-be first-time buyers amongst wider cost of living pressures, meaning that there is likely to be ongoing demand in the rental market from would-be first-time buyers who need longer to get their budget and plans in place.

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister comments: “The downward trend of mortgage rates and the improved balance between supply and demand in the rental market are positive early signs for the year ahead. However, it’s important to remember that mortgage rates are still higher than in recent years, and there are still not enough homes available in the rental market for those looking to move. The challenges for would-be first-time buyers are likely to continue to have a knock-on effect for the rental market this year, with some who need more time to save up for their first home looking to rent for longer.”

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    I do expect Labour to bring this back 😰😰 then the evictions and sales will restart 🤔🤔💵💵

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    Some rubbish being printed I know things are expensive but since when did it cost £7500.00 to Change a Boiler ? £2500.00 is more realistic for top of the range Boiler it goes to show what our child PM knows about it.
    Also an Agent putting in his tuppence worth talking about professionalism with self interest
    What would help is to remove VAT on energy improvements even on a Boiler replacement there’s several hundreds vat tax penalty, how do Sunak justify that. Just to purchase a Boiler there’s approximately £250.00 for VAT, is he sure he wants energy improvements or just more Tax.

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    Although I do not live in the UK any more. I do seem to recall that a new boiler from British Gas was over £4000 some years ago.

     
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    It's not for replacing a boiler, it's for upgrading to something more efficient like a heat pump which costs £7500+

     
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    The £7500 is to replace a boiler with solar plus batteries, or air source heat pump which is at least that costly, and not guaranteed to bring the household bills down sadly. Unfortunately not a practical option for many.

     
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    William. If anyone is foolish enough to pay British Gas for a boiler then that's a great example of "a fool and his money parted". My local plumber will do me a new Viessman fitted for £2.5 - 3k

     
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    Grumpy Doug. I would not be foolish enough to pay that. Why would I when I was Corgi/Gas Safe registered and could fit my own boilers. Far cheaper than your local plumber. BTW I was also qualified as an installer of air conditioing and heat pump systems in the UK, installing them in commercial and industrial premises worldwide. In my experience I would never try to use a heat pump on domestic premises in the UK as they are not suited to the climate.

     
    Richard LeFrak

    Correct Michael, 2.5k will get you a fabulous new boiler that will keep the tenants nice and warm. Or 7.5k for heat pump plus 150quid for a decent jacket to keep the tenants warm.

     
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    The last 2 boilers that I've had fitted cost me 1750 each supplied and fitted, I have in the past had quotes of 3500 that's when I stopped using that company

     
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    I have been quoted by an Epc "expert" £4 to £14k to improve from D to c on one property. .Even at the lower figure the saving to the tenant is still only £300 a year.. All the other properties in the apartment building of my property are already C as they have GCH (their landlord is the Council)... I already have a gas boiler for hot water that is capable of taking rads. Installing/adding rads would be two thousand but this option has not be proposed by the Epc report? . Ditto for other Epc reports I have had on upgrading to "C".. on other properties.. The Government needs to sort out Eps before moving forward.

     
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    Yes William don’t be Guided by British Gas they are off the scale. I liken them to utility Companies who are who are totally inefficient and always charge over the top.

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    I never was guided by them, just commenting on their prices. I was registered as a gas technician up until retirement and could install boilers in domestic and commercial/industrial premises myself.

     
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    I have had a number of installations over the years. BG are expensive but not that expensive. I can skeptical at replacing
    a boiler competently for less than £3k.
    When I say "competently", I don't mean unsafe but neatly done and fully functioning.

     
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    I run a heating installation and maintenance company.
    Changing boiler is not as simple as it might appear. Some require large amounts of work and parts; some are relatively quick, easy and cheap.
    So both Michael and William are correct.
    We put in boilers at a range of prices, from about £2200 to £7500 upwards. Each job is different.
    Prices also vary around the country. We operate in a relatively costly area, so our costs (therefore our prices) are more than in some other areas.
    You will also note that the recent government levy on boiler manufacturers (introduced this month) has increased the purchase price for a boiler by £95 - £ 125. Another brilliant 'green' scheme.
    It is also becoming apparent that some air source heat pump installations are being removed and being replaced with gas boilers as some are failing to give enough heat. It seems that the 'jury is still out' on heat pumps.

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    Totally agree, we replaced our old boiler when we purchased our own house 7 years ago, it cost about £7k. The whole central heating system needed replacement, all new radiators, new pipe work to extend to bigger radiators and move their locations, new Wave controller, a new tank as we went for an indirect system due to the house being a big 4 bed with 2 bathrooms etc, the boiler itself is not the main event.

     
  • Ian Deaugustine

    Why only private landlords should "contribute" to a better and green world, and why do private homeowners who live in their properties not? This is the question a modern Hamlet Landlord would ask himself :-)

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    Because we’re easy prey 🦅

     
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    • A JR
    • 09 January 2024 10:57 AM

    No political party will ever upset owner occupiers because of the ‘voting consequences’.

     
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    The SNP brought in legislation forcing every Scottish home to have interlinked smoke alarms BUT they're not enforcing this due to the feared backlash from their largely benefit claiming voters.

    What they DON'T tell their supporters is that they're effectively invalidating their home insurance if they don't comply with the current legislation which states that interlinked smoke alarms are mandatory in all Scottish homes.

    The little Green helper in charge of victimising Scottish PRS tenants and landlords is still hell bent on forcing EPC C upgrades, outlawing new gas boilers and forcing ineffective heat pumps in PRS properties.

    They seem to think that their own voters, who are mainly renters subsidised by the taxpayer, will not be disadvantaged by their ill thought out legislation.

    Just wait until their landlords sell up or those who do own their homes don't get their fire claim settled and are left bankrupt, homeless and still owing their mortgage debt.

    The SNP pretend that if they hide the possibility of unintended consequences then they won't happen!

     
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    This article was more about rents than EPCs. and states "an increasing number of landlords are having to reduce their advertised rent". If your rents are reasonable in the context of local rates then I think this is unlikely. I have seen some properties locally advertised for excessive rents, which probably would need to be reduced before anyone locally could afford them.

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    Many a self employed Gas Engineer would be delighted to do a Boiler swap for you even if a different make it’s not rocket science to re shape a few bit of copper pipe either. It never takes more than a day and the Boilers are light now and generally wall mounted. I am sure he’ll be delighted with his £1’000.00 labour for a handy days work, we are not talking about mansion houses.

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    I have two questions:

    What has this got to do with the Rightmove “General Counsel”, whatever that is?

    Secondly, where is Gibbons? He is usually all over this like a rash.

    Richard LeFrak

    😂😂😂

     
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    Would never use British Gas to install a boiler. Overpriced and from what I’ve heard the engineers are targeted each month to promote new installs (allegedly)
    £2500 seems more reasonable as a previous post commented.

  • Matthew Payne

    Amazing how you can create an article and such a headline off the back of a loose comment like, "It’s likely that EPC requirements in some form will re-appear in the near future..." I think we all knew EPC rating targets hadnt been abolished and new dates would be on the horizon. Noone mentions tough anywhere though, - artistic licence??

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    If anything, bring in a much more achievable target of BAND 'D' - and for maximum effect let's apply it to ALL uk homes.

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    what about listed properties?
    These would have to be exempt, as it would be almost impossible and prohibitively expensive to reach even a 'D' in the majority of these buildings.

     
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    Agree with lots of the comments so far, but would also add that British Gas Engineers in my experience are incompetent and don’t care 🤷‍♂️. They get paid even if they make a hash of a job.
    I had an incident where BG engineer condemned a boiler. I’m an electrician and also quite capable of repairing a boiler, so doubted his diagnosis. I got an independent engineer to check, it was the Thermocouple £15.00 plus £40.00 Labour.
    Don’t trust BG!

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    Some plumbers won't touch a lot of these modern boilers as they deem them to be too complicated (especially the electrics).
    They will install them, but if anything goes wrong, then they suggest that you use a heating engineer, who are more up to date with the workings of such a device.

     
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    BG vary on price.
    3 or 4 years ago they were very competitive. Right now they aren't.
    Over the years I've tried local plumbers, BG and various national companies such as Boxt and 247 Staywarm.
    The local gas engineer I've used for most stuff is very good but seriously expensive on boiler installation.
    Another local chap I've used is horrendous and sold me two extended warranties Glowworm are reluctant to honour due to parking proximity.
    BG don't worry about parking restrictions so will actually turn up and do the job. The main advantage with them is if the installation knocks out other parts of the system, such as valves or stuff in the airing cupboard they sort it out with no extra charge. But they only offer a 5 year warranty.
    Another local company was very competitive in summer 2022 but just about the most expensive in autumn 2023. Something like £1000 more for an Ideal Logic combi than I finished up paying.
    Boxt were good on price but middle of the road for workmanship.
    247 Staywarm was very good on installation. Really competent chap who did a very neat job. Not quite the cheapest but available to do the job in a timely fashion and could do 2 years interest free finance.

    So there are lots of variables to consider. Attitude to parking restrictions is featuring more and more prominently in my decision as to which company to use. Any that refuse to provide their engineers with parking permits and expect me to pay their parking fines are out of the question. Any that have unrealistic expectations about insisting on parking within 100m of the front door are also non starters.

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    I'm looking to buy a 6th floor apartment in a building that has no gas. The only heating comes from quite old storage heaters. The EPC is a D but (according to the EPC) upgrading the storage heaters will only just move it into a C and who knows whether come next year (or whenever the u-turn becomes an n-turn) the goal posts have been moved and a C will become a D.

    I'm not a huge fan of storage heaters anyway but any suggestions on upgrading (or even replacing) storage heaters would be greatly welcomed.

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    The Dimplex Quantum seems to be pretty good. I've no idea how much the tenant is paying for electric but he's a single chap on UC, keeps his flat toasty warm and says the bills are OK. The flat is ground floor with 3 external walls, no cavity wall insulation and EPC low D.
    I also have a newly converted much bigger top floor flat (EPC C) with electric central heating. Slim Jim electric boiler, immersion cylinder, standard wet radiators. The previous tenants didn't engage with it at all and used about 8000kwh in 13 months. The current one is making a real effort to use it sensibly and used 1091kwh from September to December. His room stat is set to 19 degrees. He has one child living with him full time and another most weekends, so a fair bit of bathing, laundry and cooking as well as heating for just over £100 a month.

     
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    This parking mularkey is getting ridiculous. I had cavity’s wall insulation installers turn up & go because I didn’t have a parking permit for them which sometimes involves paying Council a fee for parking suspension who made the restriction in the first place. They

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    Vokera 24kw - £1250
    Ideal Logic 30kw - £1500

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    Even before the EPC E cane up we have always done what we can to upgrade our houses to what is financially achievable, luckily all were a C or a D before we did the upgrades.

    Unfortunately I have 1 house that due to construction type, will never make it to a C without spending 1 - 2 years rental income to do it.

    Obviously I'm not willing to do it and I've been wanting to sell the house. Tenant was first informed when the EPC C proposal came in that I wanted to sell and I offered to sell it to her.

    When the idea was dropped she was very happy.

    I've always expected the decision to be reversed and she and her kids are going to be very disappointed when it happens as the house will be sold.

    I can get more money in the bank than I have currently received in rent for this problem property.

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    If Gibbo was about he would be able to tell you how to upgrade it to an A for a mere few thousand pounds! Unfortunately nobody has heard from him in 2024.

    I wonder if he has run off with SBR, also quiet in 2024.

     
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    Peter, I know what you mean I am aggravated for previous having had a “C” for 10 years but on renewal marked down to a “D” because I didn’t have the cavity wall certificate but obviously done it was the black poly beads and counted previously and what’s more it was done by the Government Scheme. The Contractor’s didn’t issue the Certificates they were issued by a separate body some which have gone out of Business, CIGA have no record of it but there were others at the time. I offered to take out a brick anywhere he wanted but not interested. He needed that piece of paper. The Assessor straight out of Uni knew all about lap tops but nothing about Buildings. He actually genuinely thought I would give him more work.

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