Last month Prime Minister Rishi Sunak scrapped plans aimed at forcing landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties. Although it had not officially become law, for years landlords have feared proposals to compel them to upgrade their rental properties to achieve an EPC rating of C or above by 2028, and in some cases earlier.Now in a Commons debate many MPs have called for a reversal of that.
Labour’s Cat Smith – a shadow cabinet minister under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, but now just a backbencher – said: “When I meet families who are renting from private landlords … I hear that their energy bills are far higher because of their doors and windows and how their roofs are leaky and not insulated. That rowing back on the standard in the private rented sector is costing families more.”Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said in the same debate: “We have heard from the Climate Change Committee that the changes when it comes to landlords and efficiency standards in homes will cost renters an extra £300 a year. The Office for Budget Responsibility is clear that, as a result of the changes that are going to be made, our dependence on gas will cost us more. If the Government really cared about hard-working families, they would not be handing Equinor £3 billion to develop the climate-wrecking Rosebank oilfield; they would be admitting that what the Secretary of State is doing is ripping up the climate consensus for short-term electoral calculation and populist right-wing propaganda.”
And Liberal Democrat MP Wera Hobhouse added: “It is unforgivable that the Government have cancelled the obligation for landlords to upgrade homes to an EPC grade C rating by 2028 at the latest. A comprehensive home insulation scheme would reduce bills and carbon emissions this winter. I am going to make a proposal that might sound quite attractive to Conservative ears, because it is about incentivising and tax breaks. Will the Secretary of State consider allowing landlords to offset spending on insulation against their income tax bills? That would benefit tenants by enabling them to live in warm and comfortable homes.”
However, the Energy Security and Net Zero Secretary Claire Coutinho rejected the various suggestions saying her government did not pursue the policy of making landlords upgrade properties because it could have cost up to £15,000 per unit.
“Asking families up and down the country to spend £10,000 on updating homes would have been passed on in rents and may have led to more shortages in the private rented sector” she added.