Landlords outline concerns over energy efficiency improvement works backlog
Landlords of private rented homes and their agents are urging the Scottish Government to consider the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on Scotland’s ongoing efforts to improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s private rented homes.
Four membership organisations representing the private rented sector have joined forces and written an open letter to Kevin Stewart, minister for local government, housing and planning, urging him to work with them to ensure the sector can begin to prepare for energy improvement works which will help improve the condition of housing across Scotland.
The move comes as lockdown measures are beginning to ease slightly in Scotland and landlords are planning how they will meet the Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which were due to come into force on April 1 but were delayed by the Scottish Government due to the pandemic. There is currently no date set for the regulations to be introduced.
Scottish Land & Estates, Scottish Association of Landlords, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers and Historic Houses Scotland have called for:
- a commitment that expenditure incurred now counts towards any potential cost caps in the future, which will ensure that there is no disincentive to landlords carrying out proactive work to improve energy efficiency in advance of minimum standards coming into force.
- a commitment to a timeline which means the first milestone of the regulations is one year after the new regulations are published, which will allow landlords sufficient lead in time to prepare and implement improvements to properties that require to be upgraded to comply with minimum energy efficiency standards.
- draft guidance to be published for The Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020, which will allow landlords to better understand how future regulations may affect their properties and proactively plan upgrading work accordingly, even if it is clearly labelled as “draft” guidance at this stage.
In a joint statement, the organisations said: “Private landlords in Scotland are committed to improving the energy efficiency of their properties. However, landlords have been unable to continue making improvements or to maintain property fully during the COVID-19 pandemic. This means there is a very real danger that there will be a backlog of work required to be completed.
“We are urging the Scottish Government to commit to a timeline which means the first ‘milestone’ of the regulations is one year after the new regulations are published. This will allow landlords sufficient lead in time to carry out improvements to properties that require to be upgraded to comply with minimum energy efficiency standards.
“Many landlords have suffered a substantial loss of income during lockdown due to rent reductions and rent holidays to help their tenants during this difficult and uncertain time. The funding of these maintenance and improvement works will require planning and enough time for income levels to rise. It is crucial that the government consider this.
“Landlords need reassurance from the government that any energy efficiency improvement works carried out now will be taken into account when the new regulations come in. They should not be out of discouraged from continuing to improve their properties before the new regulations are introduced.
“We continue to have concerns about the methodology and accuracy of energy performance certificates which will be used to show if a property is at the required standard or needs further work carried out to be more energy efficient. We want to continue working with the Scottish Government on this matter.”
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