Fed up with being cold at home? Tired of asking your landlord for a new boiler? Or to improve your property’s insulation?
Sadly, you’re not on your own.
Almost a quarter of homes in the UK private rental sector are officially classed as ‘non-decent’. They lose their heat quickly. They’re often cold, damp and mouldy due to their lack of insulation. And at present, only 42% of homes in the UK currently have an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of C or above.
Why? Because landlords have very little incentive to upgrade their energy efficiency.
The UK is home to one of Europe’s oldest housing stocks, with over half built before 1965. Which means, retrofitting rental properties can quickly become expensive. And as tenants are the ones footing the energy bills, it’s an expense most landlords are reluctant to pay.
However – thanks to proposed new EPC regulations – things could be about to change. Soon, landlords may have no choice but to make improvements.
A transition to EPC Band C within five years
Private rented homes in the UK currently only have to meet the low EPC Band E.
However, ministers are allegedly poised to announce new landlord EPC requirements. And according to these requirements, from 1st April 2028, all rental properties – including new and existing tenancies – will need to have an energy efficiency performance of at least EPC Band C.
It’s important to note, this bill is still making its way through parliament and legislation could be changed or amended as it progresses through the Commons and the House of Lords. But if it does become law, essentially, it means landlords will have five years to hit the target.
To continue to rent a property, they will need to make any necessary upgrades – such as installing insulation and eco-friendly devices (e.g. heat pumps, solar panels etc.) – to reach the EPC Band C threshold. And if they don’t, they’ll face a hefty penalty of up to £30,000.
How will the new EPC regulations impact tenants?
Potentially, there could be a downside to these changes for private renters.
Landlords looking at the new EPC requirements are likely to be weighing up whether the cost to improve their property’s EPC rating is worth it – or if selling the problematic property before 2028 is actually a better, more financially savvy, option.
Enhancing energy efficiency certainly won’t be cheap. An estimated 3.4 million houses will require significant improvement to meet the regulations. And at an average cost of £7000+ per property, landlords face spending an eye-watering £25 billion on retrofits.
It’s easy to understand why some might simply walk away from the sector.
Demand for affordable lets is already an issue in the UK. In the last 18 months, the number of homes available to rent has already fallen by a third. And a potential exodus of landlords could add to this problem – resulting in an even smaller rental market, less choice for tenants and ultimately higher rental prices.
However, to help prevent this, it’s rumoured the government will encourage mortgage lenders to offer affordable finance for landlords who need to carry out ‘green’ improvements.
On the flip side, decarbonising homes will have three clear benefits for tenants:
1. Lower energy bills
Currently, over a quarter of renting households in the UK live in fuel poverty.
The proposed EPC regulations should help to address this shocking statistic. After all, energy efficiency is one of the best ways to bring energy bills down. By improving insulation and heating in their privately rented properties, landlords will allow their tenants to heat their homes for less.
In fact, the new EPC standards could save renters approximately £570 a year – leading to aggregate annual savings of £1.75bn and supporting people through the cost of living crisis.
2. Better health and quality of life
Not only does a warmer home improve comfort levels (and general tenant satisfaction), it can also help to reduce damp and mould – and the health problems these issues can potentially cause or worsen (e.g. coughs, asthma, respiratory infections, arthritis, heart disease).
Due to their savings on energy bills, tenants will also have more money to spend on other bills (e.g. groceries, and day-to-day essentials) – which could facilitate an overall better quality of life.
3. Reduced carbon footprint
More and more people want to do their bit for the planet.
When choosing somewhere to live, the energy efficiency of the property is now deemed just as important as the size of the property and its location.
Decarbonised homes offer an opportunity for tenants to address the climate crisis on a personal level – allowing them to reduce their carbon footprint, whilst saving money in the process.
Not happy with the condition of your rented home?
The proposed landlord EPC requirements should be a positive change for UK renters. However, at the time of writing, the bill still hasn’t become legislation – and 2028 is still a long way away.
So what if you’re currently living in an old, damp property with a low EPC rating? Is there anything you can do to speed things up? Potentially.
Landlords shouldn’t expect you to live in a home that’s fallen into disrepair. According to Section 11 of the Housing Act of 1985, they should ‘keep the structure and exterior of the dwelling-house well repaired’ – maintaining consistently suitable, liveable conditions. Plus, they need to ensure your water, gas and electricity supply are all in good working order.
If they haven’t done any of the above – despite frequent requests for them to arrange repairs and improvements – then you may have grounds for a housing disrepair claim.
Here at St Helens Law, we can help. We have a team of specialist housing disrepair solicitors, who have excellent knowledge and experience in this area of the law. And following a free initial consultation, we should be able to advise on your eligibility to make a claim and can guide you through the claims process efficiently, effectively and amicably.
In most cases, we can also act as your legal counsel on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. Which means, there’s no need to worry about expensive legal fees in addition to soaring energy costs.
So where’s the harm in getting in touch with our residential property team?
If you have any questions about housing disrepair claims, the legal expectations of your landlord or the proposed EPC regulations, please don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01744 742360. Or to request a consultation with our housing disrepair team, simply fill out the online form on this page and we’ll respond with a few potential dates and times.