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Scotland consults on energy efficiency of PRS homes

Monday 10 April 2017

On Friday 7 April, the Scottish Government published its consultation into energy efficiency and condition standards of PRS properties.

The consultation seeks to bring forward new proposals to ensure all privately rented homes in Scotland meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency and asks for views on requiring all private rented sector properties to have a minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of 'E' at a change in tenancy from 2019, rising to EPC level 'D' from 2022.

The Scottish Government has designated energy efficiency as a National Infrastructure Priority, the cornerstone of which will be Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme. This consultation focuses on the role of minimum standards in the private rented sector, which will form part of the 15-20 year programme alongside the wider development of incentives and support mechanisms. The Scottish Government also say it will help support measures to tackle fuel poverty.

Commenting, Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We want this consultation to facilitate a discussion with landlords, tenants and other interested parties and we will listen carefully to views as the consultation progresses. We see this as the next step in the journey towards delivering our ambition to eradicating poor energy efficiency as a cause of fuel poverty.”

As well as energy efficiency measures, the consultation also examines what further measures can be taken to improve the condition of privately rented properties and seeks views on making changes to the repairing standard.

The 82 page consultation comes in two parts, the first covering minimum energy efficiency standards, and the second which deals with condition standards. 

Summary of Part 1

  • The minimum standard will apply to privately rented properties covered by the repairing standard

  • Properties will need to meet EPC band E initially, and will be raised to band D over time

  • Point of rental and backstop date: the standard will initially apply to properties where there is a change in tenancy, and then to all properties (known as the “backstop date”).

  • Meeting the initial standard of E: the standard will initially apply to properties where there is a change in tenancy after 1 April 2019. Where the EPC shows a band of F or G, the owner will need to have a minimum standards assessment carried out and lodged on the EPC register before renting out the property. The owner will have six months from the date of the assessment to carry out the work.

  • Backstop date: all properties covered by the repairing standard would need to meet the energy efficiency standard by 31 March 2022 (the “backstop date”). Where a property has an EPC of F or G (and has not already complied with the energy efficiency standard at a change in tenancy), the owner would need to have a minimum standards assessment carried out by 30 September 2021, allowing a six-month period to carry out the required improvements ahead of the backstop date.

  • Raising the standard to EPC D at a later date: similarly properties covered by the repairing standard would meet the higher standard at a change in tenancy after 1 April 2022 if they have an EPC energy efficiency rating of D, and this standard would apply to all properties by 31 March 2025. The application of the standard of D at change in tenancy and by the backstop date would work in the same way as for the initial standard of E. Any increase in the standard from 2025 would be considered following future review of the implementation of the initial minimum standards.

  • Doing the work: the owner of the property will be responsible for getting the improvements required by the minimum standards assessment done.

  • Fines: local authorities will have the power to issue civil fines of up to £1,500 against any owner who does not comply with the standard.

  • Exceptions: there will be some situations where an owner is not required to do all the improvements identified in the assessment, or will have a longer time to do so. There will be a cost cap of £5000, and we are seeking views on the existing incentives available to improve the energy efficiency of privately rented properties.

Summary of Part 2

  • Changes to the repairing standard to bring it closer to the standard required in social rented housing as part of a programme to bring housing standards closer together: meeting the tolerable standard, safe kitchens, food storage, central heating, lead free pipes, safe access to common facilities, safe and secure common doors, and adding oil and other fuels to existing safety standards for gas and electricity.

  • Other changes to the repairing standard to make homes safer by reducing the risks from scalding, electrocution, asbestos, unwholesome water, or the impact of noise. Also whether homes should have fridges and freezers (or the capacity for fridges and freezers) so that people can preserve food.

  • Seeking views on widening the scope of the repairing standard to include agricultural tenancies and some holiday lets.

  • A timescale for change to minimise the cost and impact on landlords and tenants and to fit into other targets set by government.

  • We suggest that existing measures for enforcement are sufficient, but that there should be clearer rules on exceptional circumstances.

The consultation closes on 30 June.

HOW TO RESPOND

Please respond by emailing Tim Douglas, Propertymark Policy and Campaigns Officer before Friday, 23 June 2017.

Or you can use the Government's consultation platform, Citizen Space, where you can save and return to responses at any time before the consultation closes.