Government in a dither on energy requirements in rental property. Could landlord go to prison?

The Government is giving mixed messages on the requirements for landlords to meet energy requirements.

In July, the Housing Secretary suggested there could be a delay in bringing in energy efficiency plans for the PRS. Citing financial pressures on landlords, he told The Telegraph that the government should relax the pace of changes to EPC targets.

The previous month, Energy Minister Andrew Bowie admitted that landlords would have to wait many more months to find out the details of government proposals to raise the minimum EPC for rented properties.

Now, the Housing Minister in the Lords, Baroness Scott of Bybrook when asked what she had made of Michael Gove’s remarks, gave peers the assurance that the government has insisted it is committed to raising energy efficiency in the PRS from EPC band E to C by 2028.

This is on top of a report that, under the proposed rules, anyone who doesn’t comply with energy consumption regulations could potentially face up to one year in prison and fines of up to £15,000.That means a landlord who doesn’t fit a heat pump to a property to meet tighter energy rules could, potentially, be facing a prison sentence.

However, Tory backbenchers have expressed concerns over the plans which passed their third reading this week, fearing that they might lead to the criminalisation of homeowners, landlords and businesses.

These contentious proposals are part of the government’s Energy Bill, and it includes provisions for ‘the creation of criminal offences’ for those who fail to comply with energy performance regulations.

A property owner could also face prosecution for providing false information about energy efficiency or obstructing enforcement authorities.

The Energy Bill will replace and strengthen regulations for Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs), which were previously based on now-repealed EU law.

Craig Mackinlay leads the Net Zero Scrutiny Group, and he has tabled an amendment to remove the ‘open-ended and limitless’ powers from the legislation.

He told The Telegraph: “The Bill is festooned with new criminal offences. This is just unholy, frankly, that you could be creating criminal offences.

“The ones we’ve found most offensive are where a business owner could face a year in prison for not having the right energy performance certificate or type of building certification.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, a former energy secretary, told the newspaper that the proposed use of statutory instruments to create new offences was unacceptable.

He said: “Criminal offences are an exceptional use of the state’s power and therefore require the fullest constitutional scrutiny.

“The whole Bill is about piling costs onto consumers. It’s as if Uxbridge and the vote against Ulez had never taken place.”

MPs fear that the new statutory powers for Ministers might simply be ‘nodded through’ without Commons approval.

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