Worrying EPC Landlord Attitude
When recently questioned in a Green Building Renewables survey about EPCs and how prepared Landlords are:
63% said they plan to sell properties rather than invest in energy-efficient measures like insulation, heat pumps and solar. In London, the number rose to 75% landlords and 62% landlords said the new regulations had made them consider whether it was worth keeping their properties.
Rightmove research for their Greener Homes Report also backs that claim and finds 40% of landlords with one property, currently say they are more likely to sell than make improvements.
Chris Delaney, Managing Director noted:
“The fact that such a high percentage of landlords would rather sell their energy-inefficient properties than improve them with technologies like solar panels and heat pumps raises some significant questions for the government and policymakers.”
Further – Less than half of landlords feel fully prepared for the EPC changes and 69% say they will have to spend at least £5k on upgrading each property with a similar number at 68%, concerned about how to finance it.
A staggering 80% were aware of the potential impact solar installation could have on their property’s EPC rating, but only 43% said they felt fully prepared for the changes.
Mr Delaney continued:
“80% of the buildings that exist today will exist in 2050; as a nation, we have a serious responsibility to transform our buildings and make them more energy efficient, and residential landlords have a critical role to play in this transition.”
Johan Svanstrom, Rightmove Chief Executive, said: “In the residential sector there are significant challenges to achieve greener homes at an adequate speed, not only the cost barriers to retrofit, but also a lack of knowledge on what’s best to do to a home and what it will yield.”
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Science, added: “It’s clear that the current incentives aren’t yet big enough to make people sit up and take notice, and even the incentives that do exist aren’t easy to find out about.”
Irrespective of the numbers surveyed, these surveys highlight a very worrying position – despite the government pushing hard to lessen the carbon emissions of property, little progress is being made. It was obvious from the start that this was a massive challenge, not only financially but viably as well for many people, especially at a time of higher interest rates, falling house prices and a high cost of living.
Without the proper education, incentives and easy accessibility to them, there really is very little public desire to spend money on a more complicated system in solar and a less efficient system in air and ground source heat pumps when they are still in their infancy and having to improve all of the time. People will wait until they become less expensive, more reliable and their properties can be insulated well enough to make the whole system properly efficient.
If the Government is serious about this policy, they need to re-think about its delivery to the marketplace, because it will only work if the public are on board with it! It appears, from comments by Mr Gove, that there is a timescale re-think for EPC`s as it has become very apparent that not enough landlords nor homeowners are prepared to borrow or spend the significant amount of money required to do the insulation upgrades needed.
Mr Gove told Times Radio: “There are proposals to decarbonise our existing housing stock, which I think are the right direction to go. But the costs which some of those changes may impose on homeowners, and indeed landlords, I think at this point in time we do need to be careful about.” Earlier this week, he said that the Government should “relax the pace” landlords are being forced to comply with EPC rules.
When it came to gas boilers, he said the Government should “ease off”, and give property owners longer to switch away from gas heating. The current target is for no gas boilers to be installed in new homes by 2025, and for the phasing out of boilers altogether to begin in 2033. He went on to say: “It is certainly the case that phasing out gas boilers and at the moment moving towards heat pumps does impose costs,” and that he was “looking at how we can mitigate the impact on individuals”.
With such a large housing stock of older properties, particularly terraced houses in this country; change is needed but it must be done in a realistic, cost effective manner that shows dividends for the owners. Particularly, in relation to landlords, the Government has to understand that the scarcity in supply will only get worse if these changes are rushed through as has happened to date!
Institutional and large investors are increasing but still around 75% of the PRS is made up of small landlords with one or two properties bought as part of a pension, quite often years ago. To ignore 40% and upwards of the majority portion of landlords would be a grave error of judgement with an election looming and housing taking “centre stage” in it!
“The days of building energy inefficient homes is already over and we need to get to the point when running an energy inefficient home is a thing of the past.