As we kiss goodbye to summer our attention once more turns to how to keep our homes warm and, unfortunately, the UK has some of the leakiest housing stock in Europe, with Victorian and Georgian terraced houses being some of the worst offenders. With both fuel-poverty and carbon emissions on the rise, the demand from tenants looking for more efficient property to rent is increasing. However, inefficient houses are not only unpopular with prospective tenants, but are soon set to be illegal, as landlords will become obligated, under new energy efficiency legislation to upgrade their properties and improve their EPC rating.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into effect in April 2018 and will mean that all private rented sector homes must have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E, or renting them out will be prohibited. Whilst the rule will initially apply to new tenancies and renewals, eventually (by April 2020) it will be extended to existing tenancies.
A huge number of people will therefore be affected by this legislation. From the perspective of a letting agent it is important that clients who are landlords or prospective landlords are made aware of the requirements: unless an exemption applies, renting out a sub-standard property could incur a civil penalty of up to £4,000.
Inefficient homes are not only unpopular with tenants, they are soon to be illegal, under new energy legislation.
More energy efficient homes mean warmer, more comfortable homes, so tenants will welcome the developments and be particularly vigilant when it comes to checking for compliant EPCs. Demand for comfort and cosiness will be on the rise as a result.
Concerns have been voiced from the landlord community about funding the improvements that help to improve a property’s EPC, and it has been suggested that increased rents will be required to help cover the costs of installing the necessary products – a move which will clearly be unpopular with tenants.
THE GOOD NEWS
The good news is that the Green Deal is back and available to your landlord clients as a means of financing the measures they need to improve their energy rating.
First launched by the Government in 2012, the Green Deal was established to address the fact that the UK has some of the most thermally inefficient housing in Europe. The Green Deal scheme allows consumers to access finance to go towards the costs of installing a range of energy efficient measures in their homes, including boilers, loft insulation, ground and air source heat pumps and fan assisted storage heaters.
The government ceased funding the scheme in 2015, but the Green Deal Finance Company was sold to private investors in January 2017 and recommenced financing loans to consumers in May 2017 through a network of installers from around the country.
The process for getting a loan remains the same, and a key feature of the finance scheme is still that the repayment of the loan is more easily managed, because loans are repaid as part of the property’s energy bill. This means that the person benefiting from the improved property will make the repayments, which in theory should not be higher than the amount saved as a result of the enhanced efficiency.
Where the new Green Deal differs is that it will be a more sales driven customer focused organisation, attuned to customer experience through an improved website, creating a customer experience team, diversifying product offerings and improving sales materials for installers.
We are developing the services we provide based on the experience gained from the first incarnation of the business. This includes investing in marketing (the GDFC will be changing its name and rebranding later this year), investing in the customer journey to make it better and faster, improving the website, and eventually offering top-up financing to customers where the Green Deal does not cover 100 per cent of the costs – something which will be key for landlords looking for an exemption from MEES.
Even without the legislative requirements presented by MEES, improving a home’s energy efficiency can be an easy win when it comes to selling a property. Government research has found that making energy saving improvement to a property could increase its value by 14 per cent on average – and up to 38 per cent in some parts of the country. We all want a warmer, more comfortable place to live, and the Green Deal 2.0 marks the return of an easy, convenient way to achieve that. Green Deal Finance Company: www.gdfc.co.uk