Speculation is growing that the deadline for the private rental sector to meet new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for new tenants will be extended.
Under the original plans issued by the energy and housing divisions of government, buy to let investors would have to ensure that ultimately all their properties have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of C, rather than the current E. This would come into effect from April 2025 for new tenancies and from April 2028 for existing tenancies.
Speculation has been growing that - with no official word for some two years on the viability of the deadlines - the dates would change with all investors having until 2028 to raise the ratings where necessary.
The Daily Telegraph claims that this is now a done deal in government, but has yet to be announced formally. There is some belief that today - so-called Energy Security Day - could see an official announcement.
And ministers are considering a scheme to fine landlords up to £30,000 if they fail to upgrade their properties to a minimum band C by an extended deadline of 2028.
Ben Quaintrell, whose estate agency group operates across the North East of England and North Yorkshire, said: “Improving the energy efficiency of UK homes is important, but this requires many thousands of pounds worth of investment within a very short timeframe.
“Achieving net zero energy efficiency targets in modern homes is relatively straight forward but the majority of our housing stock is pre-1960s and require huge investment.
For example, many terraced houses were built with walls one brick deep while others don’t have the necessary minimum gaps for cavity wall insulation.
“The onus must not be on private landlords to carry the can, rather there needs to be a UK wide government investment plan that acts as a workable incentive - unlike its flagship Green Homes Grant that was scrapped after just six months in 2021.
Rik Smith, head of tenancy services at Goodlord, comments: "It's absolutely right to take steps towards ensuring all national housing stock is more energy efficient and better insulated. It's not only the right thing for the planet but will also help lower bills for tenants and landlords in the long term.
“I’m sure the market will welcome the proposed extended deadline to get properties up to standard, but there's an enormous amount to do before then. The energy efficiency task force has only just been assembled, so they will need to get up to speed extremely quickly if landlords are to be supported in this transition, and the EPC methodology also needs a significant overhaul to ensure it's accurate and fit for purpose if it's to be used as such a fundamental lynchpin in our housing strategy.
“Landlords across the market are already feeling pressure on many fronts, including rising mortgage rates, so we don't want a lack of required infrastructure or not fit-for-purpose guidelines to lead them into leaving the sector."
The relaxation of the deadline may satisfy most parts of the lettings industry but one supplier is likely to be upset.
Elmhurst Energy, an energy assessors accreditation scheme, wants Energy Performance Certificates to be renewed every three years at most to ensure the UK reaches its Net Zero targets.