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Call for eco-tax incentives to make landlords improve, and not sell

Rightmove is calling on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to use next week’s Budget as an opportunity to incentivise landlords to make properties more eco-efficient.

The portal - which also calls on Hunt to introduce stamp duty and other reforms - says that following the government backtracking on some energy efficiency targets last year, there has been a decline in the number of landlords planning to make energy efficiency upgrades to properties with lower EPC ratings. 

The portal’s research suggests that in 2022, some 36 per cent of landlords said they planned to make improvements to properties rated below a C. 


In late 2023 - after the government had announced they were scrapping targets - this dropped to 26 per cent.

Now Rightmove says that to help encourage more landlords to make improvements and not to sell their properties, more incentives such as bigger, more widely accessible grants or tax savings should be considered to help make rental homes greener for tenants.

Christian Balshen, Rightmove’s lettings chief, says: “Due to the lack of available and accessible funding, many landlords aren’t in a financial position to be able to carry out major energy efficiency upgrades to their properties. 

“A further lack of clarity around potential future Energy Performance Certificate regulations means we’ve seen a drop in the number of landlords who are actively deciding to make their properties greener. 

“Ultimately this will be to the detriment of tenants who are increasingly wanting to live in energy efficient properties, and so we’d encourage any financial incentives that can be provided to landlords to improve the energy efficiency of the UK private rented sector.”

Rightmove also wants reform of stamp duty, saying it has a disproportionate effect in some regions of England compared with others, due to every area having the same zero tax charge for homes up to £250,000 for all movers, and £425,000 for first-time buyers.

It says that in London, only four per cent of homes for sale are exempt from the current stamp duty charges for all buyers, compared to 71 per cent in the North East. Meanwhile, less than a third of properties for sale in London are currently exempt from stamp duty for first-time buyers, compared with nine in ten homes in the North East.

Rightmove suggests a more localised approach to stamp duty charges in line with regional property prices could support more first-time buyers in getting a foot on the ladder, but also potentially encourage more movement up and down the ladder.

Tim Bannister, the portal’s director property science, states: “Stamp duty is a big barrier to moving, with some who would potentially consider a move likely put off by the hefty stamp duty tax in addition to other moving costs. At the very least the government should be thinking about making the current changes to first-time buyer stamp duty charges permanent, with the higher thresholds introduced in 2022 due to expire next year. 

“However, we think there is an opportunity to go a step further. With such regional variations in property prices, increasing stamp duty thresholds in line with these regional variations would seem a logical first step for stamp duty reform. Whilst longer-term supply measures are also needed, this could be one way to help first-time buyers trying to get onto the ladder in more expensive parts of England.”

And the portal is demanding more innovation in the mortgage market, too.

It says that only around five per cent of mortgages currently taken out are at 95 per cent or higher Loan-to-Value, with the majority saving up a larger deposit to benefit from a lower mortgage rate.

It insists that any new scheme should support a larger group of future first-time buyers than the government’s much-rumoured 99 per cent mortgage scheme is likely to.

Matt Smith, Rightmove’s mortgage expert , comments: “It’s been good to see innovation in the mortgage product space over the last couple of years, both from traditional lenders and more recently from new entrants. These new products have the good intention of helping renters who want to buy through supporting those with smaller deposits, or enhancing the amount a first-time buyer can borrow through access to longer term fixed rates – removing the stress test.

“Each of these new innovations are working to ensure that lenders balance the need to be prudent and comply with complex regulation that govern their affordability criteria, whilst also increasing access to homeownership to more people.

“The proposal for a 99 per cent mortgage product will offer further support for those with smaller deposits, but it doesn’t address the issue of being able to pass an affordability stress test at eight per cent-plus whilst also being inside the 4.5 loan to income ratio.

“Whilst we support new solutions to help more first-time buyers, the 99 per cent LTV mortgage alone is only likely to support a relatively small group. More needs to be done to strike the right balance between supporting a bigger group of future first-time buyers, whilst maintaining robust affordability assessments.”

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    I’ll keep it simple 😂, if the big C comes back, I Sod off 💰💰💰👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻.


    I think that's right, Simon. If a landlord can't install a 5cm sheet of Celotex on the inside of external facing walls, fit 2 x layers of Rockwool in the loft and claim the £7,500 'tax refund' of a Cosy 6 electric heat pump from Octopus Energy, then moving to a different investment class makes common sense.
    Co-operative Bank are offering 7%.
    Any local domestic energy assessor will give you a draft predicted EPC service showing the best pathway to achieve the 'Double Grade C' EPC Certificate (that is Grade C for Running Cost and Grade C for CO2 emissions).


    See, Simon? You have gone and poked the Gibbo.

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    If they take out a 99% morgage.,more chance u will struggle as payments will be higher. Oh yes mortgage brokers be up for it cos they know default then we force says get us money bck and more and move on to next poor sos in financial struggle ( they bot bothered. Stamp duty regional might be worth considering g. As all areas are different.

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    My property was last rated a C, in 2021, following the expiry of the EPC that was in place when I bought it. Apparently, it has the potential to be a B (don't tell the person who produced the previous EPC, who said it could only ever be a C).

    The previous owner did nothing and I've only replaced the boiler, but the ratings between the two certificates changed quite a bit - many going up, even though that particular aspect hasn't changed since the previous certificate was generated.

    Anyway, based on the 2021 quotes, should I spend £12,700 on their suggested improvements, I could save my tenant - wait for it - a whole £55 on their energy bills per year! Jackpot!!

    I am all for saving the planet (sensibly) and I'm very grateful my house is already a C. I also fully appreciate the upgrades aren't just about saving money on heating bills. But most upgrades cost thousands - especially for lower rated properties - and are then assessed by a completely unreliable system, which permits many of the individual ratings to just be 'assumed'.

    Not to mention the life expectancy of that eco tech, that doesn't currently have any environmentally friendly way of recycling/reusing it in 20 odd years time.

    The problem is wider than just grants and tax cuts, I'm afraid, which are also highly unlikely to outweigh the cost required.


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