October 27

Eco Targets Must Be Reinstated: EPC U-Turn


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The Building Research Establishment, a highly respected engineering institution, has issued a strong call for the government to reconsider its recent reversal of eco-measures for rental properties. This plea comes in the wake of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision last month to abandon plans that were designed to compel landlords to enhance the energy efficiency of their properties.

The Building Research Establishment underscores the importance of eco-measures, emphasizing that they not only contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly rental market but also play a vital role in reducing energy consumption and overall utility costs for both landlords and tenants. The institution’s stance is based on a thorough examination of the potential long-term benefits of such measures, including increased property values, improved living conditions, and a reduction in the carbon footprint associated with the rental sector.

For several years, landlords have lived under the looming shadow of potential legislation that would require them to enhance the energy efficiency of their rental properties to achieve an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) rating of C or higher by 2028, and in some cases, meet even earlier deadlines. Although these regulations had not been formally enacted, they were a source of concern for many property owners. The idea of upgrading properties to meet these standards had cast a pall of uncertainty over the rental property sector.

However, in a surprising move, Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently made a U-turn on these impending eco-measures. This decision has left the property industry in a state of flux and stirred controversy among experts and organizations that advocate for sustainable and energy-efficient housing. The about-face on eco-upgrades for rental properties has sparked a debate about the government’s commitment to addressing climate change and enhancing the overall quality of rental housing in the UK.

Gillian Charlesworth, the Chief Executive of the Building Research Establishment, has been a prominent voice in the discussion surrounding this U-turn. In a recent letter addressed to the Select Committee on Housing, she criticized Sunak’s decision, emphasizing the importance of adhering to eco-friendly policies and furthering energy-efficient measures in the rental property sector. This critique underscores the urgency of addressing sustainability issues in housing and the potential ramifications of scaling back on initiatives aimed at improving the energy performance of rental properties.

Charlesworth emphasizes, “The Government’s response to the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee’s report on reform of the private rented sector acknowledges the fundamental right to decent housing and the crucial role that local authorities play in setting standards and addressing issues related to rogue landlords. This recognition is a step in the right direction, highlighting the universal need for safe and suitable housing for all residents.¬†

However, recent reports suggesting that the government is reconsidering its commitments to mandate landlords to enhance the energy efficiency of rental properties have raised concerns within the housing sector. The proposal to compel landlords to achieve an EPC rating of C or above by 2028, and in some cases earlier, was seen as a positive step towards improving living conditions in the private rental market. This potential reversal could result in more homes remaining in EPC band F or G, with local authorities being unable to initiate improvements that would enhance the living conditions in privately-rented, substandard homes.

The implications of this U-turn are substantial. BRE’s latest research underscores the gravity of the situation. The private rented sector comprises 619,000 homes in England that have been identified as having a Category 1 hazard. These hazards pose a serious and immediate risk to the health and safety of occupants, and they must be addressed urgently. It’s not just about energy efficiency; it’s about ensuring the well-being of tenants.

If the government is genuinely committed to making long-overdue improvements to this housing sector, it cannot dilute the efforts to enhance energy efficiency. Such improvements would deliver tangible benefits in terms of health and economics for both private renters and society at large. By ensuring that rental properties meet higher energy efficiency standards, not only would tenants enjoy lower utility bills, but they would also experience improved living conditions. Additionally, society as a whole would benefit from reduced energy consumption, contributing to environmental sustainability.”



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Building Research Establishment, EPC

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