In a surprising turn of events, the UK government has announced a U-turn on its proposed Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) changes that were set to affect landlords across the country. The original plans included a ban on gas boilers and mandatory upgrades to ensure all rental properties carried a minimum EPC – C rating. However, after careful consideration and a re-evaluation of the impact these changes would have on the rental market, the government has decided to take a more pragmatic approach.
Here we aim to provide landlords with a comprehensive guide to the government’s U-turn on EPC changes. We will explore the reasons behind the decision, the implications for landlords, and what this means for the future of energy efficiency in the rental sector.
The original EPC changes were part of the government’s commitment to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. The proposed ban on gas boilers and a change to the minimum EPC ratings were seen as crucial steps towards reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency in the rental sector. However, these changes were met with resistance from landlords and industry experts who raised concerns about the feasibility and cost of implementing such measures.
In his recent speech, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined the government’s new approach to tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. He acknowledged the need to reduce emissions but emphasised the importance of considering the real-life implications of previous measures on landlords and tenants. Sunak stated that the government would take a more pragmatic approach, giving property owners more time to transition to greener alternatives and not forcing anyone to rip out existing gas boilers.
Under the government’s new approach, the proposed ban on gas boilers will no longer be enforced. Landlords will not be required to replace existing gas boilers with heat pumps unless they have worn out and even then, the deadline for replacement has been extended to 2035. The government has also announced an increase in the existing boiler upgrade scheme, providing landlords with financial support to make necessary improvements.
One of the most significant changes in the government’s U-turn is the scrapping of mandatory EPC upgrades for rental properties. The original plan was to require all rental properties to achieve a minimum EPC rating of C by 2025 (later delayed until 2028), with fines for non-compliance. However, the government has acknowledged the high costs associated with these upgrades and the potential impact on tenants’ rents. Instead, more government funding will be offered as an incentive for landlords and homeowners to voluntarily upgrade their properties.
The government’s U-turn on EPC changes is likely to have a positive impact on tenants. The scrapping of mandatory EPC band C upgrades means that tenants will not face potential rent increases resulting from the costs of these upgrades. Additionally, the extended timeline for replacing gas boilers provides more time for landlords to find suitable alternatives, ensuring the availability of affordable and efficient heating options for tenants.
The National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA) has welcomed the government’s U-turn on EPC changes. The NRLA acknowledges the importance of energy efficiency but emphasises the need for a clear plan and appropriate financial support for landlords to make the necessary improvements. The government has recognised this concern and has committed to developing a full plan that supports the rental market in achieving energy efficiency goals.
The government’s U-turn on EPC changes reflects a more pragmatic approach to reducing carbon emissions and improving energy efficiency in the rental sector. The scrapping of the gas boiler ban and mandatory EPC band C upgrades provides landlords with more flexibility and time to make necessary improvements. However, it is essential for landlords to stay informed about any future developments and ensure their rental properties meet the necessary energy efficiency standards.