Nearly half of landlords (47%) believed that rules instructing them to upgrade properties to an EPC rating of C or higher was guidance and not the law, according to research by Mortgage Advice Bureau.
In 2021, the government issued a deadline of 2025 for landlords to upgrade properties new to the rental market to a minimum of C EPC rating and 2028 for all other rental properties. However, recent reports have suggested that a deadline of 2028 will be confirmed for all let property.
The MAB study also shows that 35% of landlords knew this rule was the law but 18% weren’t aware of the changes at all.
Of those surveyed who did know they needed to make changes (whether it was law or guidance), 34% had heard about this via the government themselves.
However, a further third (32%) had only heard about the EPC rules through the media, and 30% through their friends and family. Almost a quarter (22%) were made aware of the changes needed to be made from their tenants themselves.
The main concerns of landlords around upgrading their properties by the 2028 deadline were found to be the costs of making all the necessary upgrades (27%) and finding a trusted tradesperson (27%). A further 23% were worried about the disruption it may cause tenants when they make the upgrades, as well as the time it may take (also 23%).
The research shows that those who only let one property are more unaware of the changes than those who’ve got two or more properties. Over a quarter (28%) of landlords with a single property did not know about the upgrades that needed to be made, compared to landlords with over six properties, who were all aware of the changes.
Mortgage Advice Bureau deputy chief executive Ben Thompson says: “Landlords were facing a race against time to retrofit their properties and meet incoming EPC legislation.
“As well as cost of living pressures and higher interest rates working against landlords meeting the initial 2025 deadline, they were also clearly in the dark about the changes that they needed to make. While delaying the cut-off date before the law comes into place is clearly a sensible move, unless there is clear help unveiled to support with the cost of retrofitting, they could find themselves up against the deadline again in a few years’ time.
“An extension would also, sadly, mean that tenants will continue to struggle with higher energy bills, so it’s vital that the deadlines are not seen to be easily moved. Sooner or later, the inconvenient truth is that the retrofitting of properties that are sub-C (whether rented or owner-occupied) will most definitely need to be done.”