Private landlords face tougher efficiency rules
Rules forcing private landlords to improve the energy efficiency of their homes could be introduced earlier if progress is not made voluntarily.
As the Energy Bill completed its progress through parliament this week, Department of Energy and Climate Change minister Lord Marland promised to keep deadlines for improving private rented sector properties under review.
Campaigners had called for a deadline to ban the letting of properties rated at below band E for energy efficiency to be brought forward from 2018 to 2016.
In a debate in the House of Lords, Lord Marland refused to accept the change to the bill, but said: ‘If we do not see reasonable progress, we could consider acting earlier.’
The minister also clarified that another aspect of the amendment calling for letting agents to be covered by the same rules as landlords was unnecessary as this would be covered by existing law.
He refused to close a ‘loophole’ that would allow F and G rated properties to continue to be let as long as landlords can demonstrate they have improved their efficiency using the green deal scheme.
The amendment, which was introduced by Lord Best, was not put to the vote because of a parliamentary protocol on forcing votes during party conferences.
Dave Timms, UK climate and energy campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: ‘The bill is not as tight as it should be, but we have got law which says private rented sector properties have to be improved, and that is a big step forward.’
During the debate the government made some minor amendments to the green deal energy efficiency scheme, promising to ensure green deal assessors ‘act with impartiality’ and stating that the government will report annually on the take up of the initiative.
However Lord Marland refused to accept calls from Baroness Smith of Basildon to set fixed interest rates for green deal loans. Baroness Smith argued financial uncertainty due to variable rates could discourage households from taking part.
Lord Marland said: ‘If the government try to confine [the green deal market] by imposing restrictions and limitations in interest rates, they will shy the market away from it.’
Darren Shirley, campaign manager for sustainable homes at WWF UK, said: ‘There is still no answer from government on ensuring interest rates are low enough. There needs to be some financial incentive to make this attractive.’