In the first week in April, the Scottish Government published a consultation on introducing a minimum energy efficiency standard for private rented sector (PRS) properties. This mirrors what Westminster is doing in England and it’s refreshing to see agreement and joined up thinking. In England, minimum energy efficiency standards come in to force from 1st April 2018 and it will be interesting to see how this is received and, more importantly, enforced.
The consultation also proposes changes to the Repairing Standard to bring it more in line with the condition standard required in social housing.
In relation to a minimum energy efficiency standard the proposal is that the requirement apply to all properties covered by the Repairing Standard. These would be required to have a minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of E at the point of rental from 1st April 2019. All rental properties must have a minimum rating of E by 31st March 2022. The consultation also proposes that the minimum rating requirement rise to D at the point of rental from 1st April 2022. All rental properties must have a minimum rating of D by 31st March 2025. The consultation proposes various exemptions and a cost cap of £5000 per property. It is good to see that Scotland is again leading the way in housing and looking to raise standards beyond that of our English cousins.
In relation to the Repairing Standard, the consultation proposes a raft of changes focusing on improving the safety standards and physical condition expected of properties. These include a requirement to meet a basic ‘tolerable’ standard, have safe kitchens, adequate food storage space, fixed heating, lead free pipes, safe access to common facilities, safe and secure common doors, and add oil and other fuels to existing safety standards for gas and electricity. Other changes are proposed to make homes safer by reducing the risks from scalding, electrocution, asbestos, unwholesome water and the impact of noise. Respondents to the consultation are also asked whether all PRS properties should have cookers, fridges and freezers provided by the landlord which is particularly relevant at the lower end of the market.
A five year lead in time is suggested for any changes to the Repairing Standard.
We at Northwood wholeheartedly endorse any initiative to improve standards for tenants as it is often the most vulnerable who are currently at risk. These tenants often feel they don’t have a voice and are reluctant to challenge conditions for fear of losing their home. These changes follow the philosophy of Hippocrates ‘prevention is better than cure’ and we welcome these new proposals.
Unlike many agents, our Guaranteed Rent scheme differs as with properties let under this scheme we are the landlord so have a vested interest in supporting these changes. Further, for landlords concerned about these proposals, we help take the burden of increasing compliance away from them.
Please call your nearest office for professional, no nonsense advice on how we can help.