Landlords pushed by government to bolster energy efficiency

An increased number of landlords will be required to improve the energy efficiency of the coldest homes in England and Wales, the government has revealed.

Owners of homes within the F and G bands have been required since April to upgrade them to band E or be stripped of the right to acquire new tenancies.

The government previously proposed that landlords who faced costs exceeding £2,500 for putting in new insulation and other measures would be exempt from making the upgrades.

That was half the ceiling previously expected, letting many landlords off the hook and leaving tenants facing higher energy bills.

But on Monday the government announced it is lifting the cap to £3,500, meaning fewer owners would be exempt.

Campaigners said the concession was long overdue but would still leave an unnecessary number of tenants paying over the odds to heat their homes.

Max Wakefield, the lead campaigner at green group 10:10 Climate Action, said: “Whilst this move is a step forward the government has chosen not to take the advice of fuel poverty campaigners by setting a higher landlord cap of £5,000.

“This means that those in the very worst homes will still be left in the cold.”

The regulations on energy efficiency standards for private rental sector properties affect about 290,000 F- and G-rated homes in England and Wales.

The government expects the upgrades to cost landlords £1,200 on average, resulting in average energy bill savings of £180 a year for tenants.

But campaigners said that lifting the cap on landlords’ costs from £2,500 to £3,500 would only help an additional 5,000 homes, based on the government’s own impact assessment.

Lifting it to £5,000, as first proposed and recommended by fuel poverty groups, would have helped 40,000 extra.

Peter Smith, the director of policy and research at fuel poverty group National Energy Action, said there had been some improvement on previous proposals. “But the vast majority of private landlords are still going to be able to rent out properties which are dangerously cold and damp,” he said.

Energy minister Claire Perry said: “Everyone should be protected against the cold in their own home and today’s announcement will bring this reality closer.”

The cap is expected to take effect at some point in 2019. In the meantime, landlords can claim an exemption regardless of the level of the costs they face.

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