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Posts Tagged ‘Private Rented Sector’

Greater London Authority,Private Rented Sector

A Warm Deal for London’s Renters

The need for a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard

It is a shocking fact that hundreds of thousands of London’s renters are shivering in damp, draughty homes they can’t afford to heat. This problem could be solved by effective minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector – but national standards are weak and difficult to enforce, leaving households at the mercy of their landlords.

ACE is asking the next Mayor to stand up for London’s renters and pledge to introduce a London-wide minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes, of Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Band C by 2025.  See our full ask here.

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Fuel Poverty,Infrastructure,Investment,Labour,Private Rented Sector

Labour conference puts energy efficiency centre stage

ACE welcomes Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate, Caroline Flint’s pledge at the Labour party conference today to ‘make energy saving a national infrastructure priority’.

We also welcome the commitment to require private rented accommodation to meet a decency standard by 2027: we urge the Labour party to ensure that this standard is set high enough (EPC band C) to deliver homes that are fit for purpose in a low energy, low carbon economy.

Delivering on the infrastructure priority promise requires investment: why then are Labour confining themselves only to a level of action that can be achieved ‘without spending any more money’?

A promise to make 200,000 homes warm every year is good – but not good enough: it could leave families living in dangerously cold homes for a further 30 years. The six million low income families living in homes that are too expensive to heat need real priority to be given to this investment. Using only a very small portion of the £45 billion invested in infrastructure each year would enable the level of action to be increased enormously. We therefore urge Labour to increase the ambition of their implementation plans to match the strength of their pledge.

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Energy Performance Certificates,Private Rented Sector

DECC: Consultations on Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations

ACE has submitted written responses to The Department of Energy and Climate Change consultations on private rented sector energy efficiency regulations, for the domestic and non-domestic sectors respectively. Following a campaign by ACE and its allies, the Energy Act 2011 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to bring into force regulations to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the domestic and non-domestic private rented sector in England and Wales.

On the domestic sector consultation, delays have caused concern and uncertainty for an energy efficiency industry gearing up to deliver improvements. We are pleased therefore that the long-awaited consultation has finally been published. However, the Government’s proposals contain a number of key flaws, which must be remedied if the minimum standard is to be enforceable by local authorities and to deliver improvements up to an Energy Performance Certificate Band E in all cases.

We have similar concerns regarding the non-domestic sector regulations. Moreover, as former ACE Director Andrew Warren wrote on September 9, what is deeply worrying is that a very large number of non-domestic buildings have not yet had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) issued despite the leaseholder having altered (a state of affairs which is in breach of the law). Many of these are likely to be poor performers on the EPC scale. The knock-on problem is that these illegally un-certified buildings are not captured by the regulations for minimum energy performance.

Read ACE’s…:

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Private Rented Sector

Joint statement issued today calling for tough, enforceable regulations in the private rented sector

ACE has today joined with nearly 30 other civil society organisations in issuing a joint statement calling on the Government to lay without delay tough, enforceable regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard in the private rented sector.  The sector has the highest proportion of the very worst homes (those in EPC Bands F and G) – with nearly half the households living in them suffering from fuel poverty.  The Energy Act 2011 required the Government to bring forward regulations to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard, expected to be set at Band E.  However, these regulations look likely to be laid at least a year later than expected, leaving landlords and tenants alike facing uncertainty and confusion.  We are therefore calling on the Government to lay the regulations as soon as possible, to specify that the standard will be Band E in all circumstances and to ensure that exemptions will be kept to an absolute minimum.

PRS Joint Statement

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Department for Communities and Local Government,Housing,Private Rented Sector

DCLG: Review of Property Conditions in the Private-Rented Sector

ACE and Friends of the Earth have long been concerned about the poor standards of energy efficiency (and high concentrations of fuel poor and vulnerable households) in the private rented sector (PRS). The PRS is a rapidly growing part of the housing market. Of the 22.8m households in England in 2011, 4 million were privately rented (17.5% of the housing stock). This was an increase of 1.6m in only six years – and is the highest level since the early 1990s. The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a review of property conditions in the PRS, and invited stakeholder responses; ACE and Friends of the Earth have provided theirs together.

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Climate Change,DECC,Energy Bills,Energy Company Obligation,Private Rented Sector,Public Buildings

Questions for DECC on proposals tabled 2.12.2013

In response to recent announcements regarding changes to energy efficiency policies (including this DECC press release), ACE have asked DECC to answer the following questions:

1.  On the announcement of a “Stamp duty rebate” for home-movers who install efficiency measures:

  • Is this really a stamp duty rebate (implying a return of money at some point after purchase for homeowners who can prove they have installed measures) or is it just a cashback by another name?  What will the delivery mechanism be?
  • Does this money come out of the existing £200m cashback pot, or does it come from somewhere else?  Is this Exchequer funding?
  • It is anticipated that 60,000 homes a year will be helped.  But what if a large number of homeowners opt to have more expensive measures installed?
  • If the share of the £450m allocated to this scheme runs out prior to April 2017, does this mean that the scheme will be closed?

2.  Help for private landlords:

  • The press release talks of a “scheme to support private landlords” and promises a share (unspecified) of £450m will be available to fund this.  However, the press release goes on to say that this scheme will  consist of “funding available through the Green Deal”.  It is therefore confusing as to whether this will be Government funding channelled through the Green Deal, or else some “tweaking” of Green Deal finance, or else some extension of the LESA scheme?
  • In an article in The Sun newspaper (1st December), Nick Clegg and David Cameron refer to “cash incentives to landlords of the least energy efficient properties”; the press release meanwhile talks of “helping landlords bring their properties up to minimum standards” – the implication of both of these statements is that the funding for landlords will only be available to landlords of F and G rated properties.  Can this be clarified/confirmed?
  • In the article in The Sun, Nick Clegg and David Cameron talk about the incentive being available to landlords “when they are between tenants” – will the incentive only be available during void periods?
  • Government is claiming this will deliver 1.8Mt of carbon savings .  If it is geared to existing F and G-rated homes,  surely all these savings must already be built into Government carbon estimates from the time the Energy Bill 2011 made it mandatory to outlaw F & G rated properties.  Therefore there will be no new carbon saved – it will just be a sweetener for landlords to get them to obey the law.
  • There are 440,000 F & G rated properties in the private rental sector. The new scheme will incentivise just 45,000 of them over three years,  e.g 10% of the total.  Can this be confirmed?

3. Spending breakdown:

  •  We’re told that there will be £450m of new investment for the two new measures above.  What is the breakdown of spending as between the two measures?

4. Carbon savings and public buildings:

  • What are the carbon savings associated with each of the above, and how much additional carbon saving is assumed to come from the £90m being allocated to schools, hospitals and other public buildings? What shape is deployment of this £90m – is it a grant? Or an extension of a finance mechanism (presumably Salix)?

 

We hope DECC will soon provide clarification on these important points.

 

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Buildings,Private Rented Sector

A long road to upgrading private rented homes

ImageBy 2018, private sector landlords will not be allowed to let out an F- or G-rated building. Why do we have to wait that long for change?

Everybody else seems to be quoting Charles Dickens in his bicentenary year. So let me do so, by borrowing that “best of times, worst of times, age of wisdom, age of foolishness” paradox in the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities.

The private rented sector offers the best examples of energy-efficient homes. The private rented sector includes some of the worst examples of dreadful, profligate, energy inefficient homes.

Increasingly the private rented sector matters. Since the millennium, there has been an inexorable rise in the proportion of households paying rent to a private landlord. Almost 1 in 6 households now do so.

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Energy Efficiency,Private Rented Sector

Energy Efficiency in Private Rented Homes

ACE has been working closely with Friends of the Earth to bring together a 37-strong coalition of wide-ranging organisations all calling for one thing – the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector.

For too long the private rented sector has been overlooked, and as such it contains some of the coldest houses in the UK. We think this needs to change, and so we are demanding a new law to protect private tenants. The coalition (which includes children’s, housing, elderly, disability and environmental charities) is calling for urgent Government action to make it illegal to rent out the least insulated properties until they are brought up to a higher standard of energy efficiency.

We need our supporters to help us win this campaign. If you would like to help this campaign then please write to your MP and ask him/her to sign EDM 653 calling for minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector. The letters need not be long or complicated, but please be sure to include a return address, and forward on any replies to us. We don’t like to provide template letters to our supporters, as this makes less impact on the MPs, but you might also wish to add something to your letter from the suggestions below.

If you’re not sure who your MP is you can find out here , and you would like to know more about the campaign then you can view the campaign statement here.

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Private Rented Sector

Press Release: Private Rented Sector Campaign

ACE has been working closely with Friends of the Earth on a campaign to tackle energy efficiency in the private rented sector. We have been at the forefront of this fantastic campaign which is rapidly gaining pace. Today our partners at FoE released the following statement.

If you would like to help this campaign then please write to your MP and ask them to sign EDM 653 calling for minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector. You can find out who your MP is here, and you can see the campaign statement here.

‘PROTECT TENANTS IN COLD HOMES’ DEMAND CHARITIES

Charities and consumer groups concerned about the number of cold, health-hazard rented homes are demanding a new law to protect tenants in a statement to Energy Secretary Chris Huhne today.
The coalition of 15 organisations, including children’s, housing, disability and environmental charities, is calling for urgent Government action to make it illegal to rent out the least insulated properties until they are brought up to a higher standard of energy efficiency.

Their joint statement says properties rented through private landlords are the most poorly maintained homes and contain large numbers of vulnerable people and those living in fuel poverty.
Almost a fifth of private tenants live in fuel poverty and can’t afford to heat their homes to a reasonable standard. According to the Government’s Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, the past six years have been devastating for the fuel poor as gas and electricity bills have shot up by 125 per cent.

Friends of the Earth’s climate campaigner Dave Timms said: “It’s a disgrace that millions of vulnerable people in Britain live in poorly insulated and dangerously cold homes that make them ill, while paying far more than they can afford trying to stay warm.

“The Government should introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented homes so they are better insulated and cheaper to heat – this would protect tenants from high fuel bills and ill health, while creating jobs, saving the NHS money and cutting carbon emissions.”

The group is also calling for landlords to get better information, clear advice and greater financial help to bring their properties up to scratch – and for tenants to get accurate, reliable information about the energy efficiency when choosing a home.

On the eve of the Liberal Democrat party conference, a Parliamentary motion for minimum energy efficiency standards private rented homes has been signed by MPs from across the political spectrum, including senior Liberal Democrat backbenchers Charles Kennedy, Alan Beith, Malcolm Bruce and Andrew George.

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband has also backed regulation to ensure private rented homes are properly insulated.

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Domestic Energy Consumption,Energy Efficiency,Private Rented Sector

Let’s remove the barriers to the landlord

ImageA straightforward change to an act of parliament could remove many of the barriers to landlords investing in energy efficiency

[The author acknowledges the work of Dr N Roberts, as published in the New Law Journal (“Keeping warm communally”, 160 NLJ 7423, p 897), in the development of some of the ideas contained in this column.]

The landlord/tenant arrangement is one of the greatest barriers to improving the energy efficiency of buildings. The dichotomy is simply expressed. Why should a landlord, who doesn’t pay the fuel bills, fund measures intended to reduce these fuel bills? In turn, why should a tenant pay for improvements to a property that belongs to somebody else?

I think there is a small alteration that can be made to an established 23-year-old Act of Parliament which could facilitate a way round this conundrum, and really get the Green Deal ethos going in tenanted premises.

Right now, even if the leaseholder is prepared to fund investments unilaterally, some serious legal difficulties constrain action. The tenant’s locus effectively ends at the inner surface of the exterior walls. Any cavity between the two skins of brickwork belongs to the landlord. The “demise” (or legal authority) of the typical top-floor flat ends at the ceiling: the uninsulated attic falls within the “common parts”, the landlord’s domain. Similarly, exterior windows and walls belong to the landlord.

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