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Energy Efficiency and conditions consultation analysis

Tuesday 06 February 2018

The Scottish Government has released their analysis of their findings from the public consultation on energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing.

The consultation, which we responded to in July 2017, was divided into two parts - the first covered proposals for an energy efficiency standard in private rented housing, and the second looked at the condition of private rented housing in Scotland. 

Overall, there was a wide mix of respondents, from landlords to professional bodies and Local authorities, and Shelter Scotland, who submitted a report drawing on the views of over 200 private tenants. 

Energy efficiency

The Government's main proposal is to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard so that properties in the private rented sector comply with a minimum EPC rating of E in the first instance, increasing to a D rating by 2022.  

Some respondents suggested that the Government should consider introducing a minimum standard as an EPC rating of D from the outset but with a longer lead-time, arguing that a phased approach moving from D to E would just cause unnecessary confusion and administration. 

Views across respondents were mixed as to whether the Government's proposals allowed sufficient time for introducing a miminum standard of an EPC rating band E. Those that did disagree about the proposed lead argued that it was not long enough. 

ARLA Propertymark argued for a phased approach so that landlords would be allowed time to prepare and ensure that the work can be carried out, but agreed that owners should be required to carry out a minimum standards assessment on properties with an EPC rating of F or G, before they are allowed to rent the property out.

Costs

The Scottish Government believe that the costs associated with the proposals will be relatively low provided that sufficient lead in time is allowed. However, they think there will be some exceptions - for example, it could be costly for landlords of agricultural tenancies to bring them up to the existing repairing standard. 

However, we argued that with landlords being stretched all the time, for the scheme to be successful it's fundamental that the Government provides financial support to landlords by way of refunding the cost of the EPC when landlords act upon one of the recommended 'lower cost' improvement measures. 

On top of this, it's crucial that the Scottish Government provide additional incentives which will encourage landlords to act - such as tax benefits or interest-free loans. We also suggested that funding options could be staggered by a property's build date to incentivise landlords with older properties to seek funding first. Grant funding must be available for these properties and tenants in most need. 

And we were certainly not alone in the concerns we raised, with the analysis indicating that cost and practical implications emerged as a key theme running through the responses, particularly for older, rural properties or agrarian tenancies. 

What properties should be covered?

The majority of respondents (56%) including ARLA Propertymark, agreed that only tenancies covered by the existing Repairing Standard should have to meet minimum energy efficiency standards, with commons reasons for the 31% that said 'no' being that all tenancies should have to meet the requirements. 

In our submission, we agreed with the statement that the upon first implementation the mimimum energy efficiency standard should apply only to properties where these is a change in tenancy (with 63% of respondents agreeing). We argued that this phased approach will allow landlords sufficient time to prepare and ensure that the work can be carried out within the deadline, whilst also pushing the Government to consider extending the proposed deadline beyond the proposed than 18 months (1 April 2019).

Standards for private rented housing

When is came to safety standards, a majority of respondents, 75% of those answering the question, thought that there should be a minimum standard to ensure kitchens within the private rented sector are safe. Whereas social housing is designed to a specific specification, there is no such standard in the private rented sector which comprises a huge variety of housing types. We'd like to see more information and research from the Scottish Government on this taking into account such things as property age, condition and size.

Respondents were also predominantly in favour of safe access and safe use of common facilities provided with the tenancy (73%) and a minimum standard for safe and secure common doors (70%). ARLA Propertymark advocate a duty of care by landlords to ensure properties are safe and secure for all tenants.

Read the full report