Thursday, 24 April 2014

Landlords to be forced to improve energy efficiency

The government is planning to use building regulations as a means of increasing take-up of its flagship retrofit scheme, the green deal when it is introduced in October.

The long-awaited consultation on building regulations announced by junior housing minister Andrew Stunell yesterday revealed that the government plans to make landlords undertaking extensions to their homes also carry out energy efficiency works at the same time.

It plans to extend and expand the requirements around consequential improvements in existing buildings where they are ‘technically, functionally and economically feasible’.

The energy efficiency works would be mandatory for all extensions and for the replacement of controlled services or fittings, meaning the replacement of a boiler or a percentage of windows.

Under the £14 billion green deal programme households will be able to receive energy efficiency works on their homes at no upfront cost and then private sector companies will recoup the costs through the resulting savings.

Although the works that will be required by building regulations will not be explicitly tied to the green deal, they would be made available under green deal finance.

Landlords will have to ensure they spend at least 10 per cent of the cost of the planned works on the energy improvement work – however the government hopes they will exceed this by using green deal finance, and, potentially energy company obligation subsidy funding.

Around 200,000 extensions and conversions are carried out a year and the government argues these works increase energy use which should be mitigated across the home.

Mr Stunell claimed the new building regulations would save over £63 million a year for businesses by cutting red-tape and deliver safer and more sustainable buildings.

He added that when the amendments come into force next year, more energy efficient homes could save householders more than £150 a year on energy bills compared with homes being built in May 2010.

Mr Stunell said: ‘The coalition is committed to being the greenest government ever, so improving the energy efficiency of our existing buildings through the green deal, and ensuring that all new homes are zero carbon by 2016 is a top priority.

‘But we need to do this in a way that doesn’t add to the regulatory burden on businesses. So I’m delighted that these much need changes will provide guidance that is both fit for purpose and will cut carbon emissions, whilst also saving money for house holders and businesses alike.’

Readers' comments (19)

  • Rick Campbell

    You never know Dennis, old Shappsy might just introduce new tenancy agreements forcing all tenants to do their own repairs altogether?

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  • Well that's the way things are going Rick :)

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  • Sexton

    It would be very naiive to expect energy improvements by forcing the issue on extensions and conversions via Building Reg.

    Various governments had the opportunity impose green issues on the new build via Building Reg, since 2002, but failed reapeatedly. Now while the country is in a financial mess they want to add to the cost of construction, in order to prolong the recession.

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  • Dennis

    I enjoyed your selective quoting. You did however, miss the bit out where I noted that your rent only partially funds DHS works - the rest is paid for by the council (if they have the funds)/the treasury (if your landlord is an ALMO)/loans from banks (if your landlord is an HA). Of course we're also neatly sidestepping the fact that your rent is actually the price you pay for your home; to suggest that you shouldn't contribute to the maintenance of your home through your rent is tantamount to suggesting you should live there free isn't it?

    As far as your boiler goes; the article suggests that the green deal will be enforced through building regs and it will only enforce replacement of a boiler if the existing one is inefficient. So unless you're planning an extension and have been given a poor boiler under the DHS programme, let's face it - you've not much to worry about have you?

    Deac.

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  • Deacon,I believe that I already contribute towards maintenance of my home via the rent I pay,and this is as it should be.

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  • bexter222

    As someone who has family members in social housing, I can understand tenants concerns. My personal opinion is that if someone pays rent for their property and does not have the ownership, the rent is paid to carry out major repairs and maintenance and these should stay under the responsibility of the landlord. These costs should not be passed back to tenants, as enough component costs are already passed back through service charges, particularly in blocks of flats. With rent increases set to rise and housing benefit being cut, if responsibility to repalce boilers etc starts to fall onto tenants, I can easily predict more people falling into further poverty and homes into disrepair due to non complianes. What will the DH figures fall to then, I wonder?

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  • Despite my taking issue with Dennis' rather belligerent views on what the rent he pays is used for, he and I do agree (I think) that tenants should not be picking up the bill for energy efficient works through the green deal framework. Social Landlords should fund these works directly, rather than expecting the tenant to repay the cost of them through the savings on their energy bills. I'm sure Dennis will see it as the same thing in either event, but I happen to think the cost to the tenant will be considerably lower if the the landlord funds the works.

    Again though - there is no suggestion here that the tenant will become responsible for replacing their own boiler (nor is it likely that there ever will be, as regardless of what Shapps would like to do, most landlords simply cannot get the insurance to cover anything beyond very minor tenant repairs). The point in this article is that the green deal will be enforced through building regulations (which only apply to new structures, not pre-existing). So unless your family, or Dennis, or any social housing tenant is having an extension built on their existing property, they are not going to be forced to have a new boiler or other energy savings measures. Even if that were the case, the likelihood is that much of what the building regs will require will have already been done through the DHS programme, so again - very unlikely this will have any major impact on social tenancies as a whole.

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  • Deacon Spike,yes indeed we do agree that tenants should not be picking up the bill for energy efficient works,via the grren deal.

    That is the 'main' thing,argument between us about what portion of rent paid is towards maintenance is nit-picking.

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  • Rick Campbell

    Will policy alter now that legal proceedings are progressing against Mr Huhne -- I ask this in case some other person (that nice Mr Shapps) might get the poisened chalice and we'd get some other 'person' in charge of non-housing?

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