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Energy efficiency regulation a 'Golden Opportunity'

Scottish Government launches consultation into the establishment of minimum energy efficiency standards for those living in privately rented homes.

The Existing Homes Alliance has today warmly welcomed a Scottish Government consultation into the establishment of minimum energy efficiency standards for those living in privately rented homes. The move could bring the private rented sector towards the standards which are required for tenants in housing association homes by 2020 and similar regulation has already been introduced in England and Wales.

Figures from the most recent Scottish House Condition Survey show that 9% of properties in the private rented sector are in the two lowest energy efficiency bands as opposed to just 2% in the social sector.

The consultation will run until 30 June 2017 and the Existing Homes Alliance is encouraging tenants and landlords in the private rented sector to submit responses in support of the Scottish Government's proposals. In it, Ministers state that they are considering requiring landlords to ensure their properties meet the EPC band E standard by April 2019, with a focus on upgrading the worst properties first, and then to require all rented homes to meet EPC band D standard by 2022.

Lori McElroy, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said:

"We have been urging the Scottish Government to act on fuel poverty in the private rented sector, and these proposals could spell an end to many tenants suffering from cold, draughty and expensive to heat homes.

“Almost one in seven Scottish residents rent privately, and the evidence shows they are in a particularly vulnerable position on this issue. Unlike social housing tenants, they have no statutory protection in this area and, in some cases, they are unable to get work done themselves and may not be able to persuade their landlord to take care of it either.

"However, we know that good landlords already ensure that the properties they let out are well-insulated and affordable to live in, with many private properties already meeting the same high standards we see in the best of owner-occupied or housing association properties. It is unfair that these landlords have to compete with a small minority who are less concerned for their tenants' wellbeing. These proposals are therefore a golden opportunity to make a better private rented sector for future generations as well as those renting today.

"It's also great to see ministers have announced a timescale for consulting on regulation for the owner occupied sector, which would be the final piece of the jigsaw. We look forward to seeing the detail of the Scottish Government’s proposals, because we believe everyone in Scotland should be able to have confidence when they move into a new home that it will be affordable to heat, and that vision requires a level playing field for home-owners. In combination with today's detailed proposals for tenants, this is the scale of ambition we hoped to see from the Scottish Government." 

Sarah Boyack, Head of public affairs with SFHA, said:

“The consultation is welcome as introducing minimum energy efficiency standards can help to drive investment in home energy efficiency. Housing associations are subject to minimum energy efficiency standards – first through the Scottish Housing Quality Standard and more recently through Energy Efficiency Standards for Social Housing. These standards, together with housing associations’ commitment to improve their properties and provide warm affordable homes, have led to associations having the most energy efficient homes in Scotland.

“Setting minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector would also help progress upgrading works in mixed ownership tenements. It can be difficult for housing associations to carry out upgrades to buildings with communal owners where the other owners don’t have to meet a minimum energy standard.

“While this consultation only indirectly affects housing associations and their tenants, we have provided information and support to the Scottish Government based on the sector’s experience of energy efficiency regulation which has helped drive investment and keep homes affordable to heat.”