As the winter months draw in and the temperature starts to drop, keeping one's home warm is vital. Yet, with the price of gas and electricity rising quicker than a Saturn V rocket and gas, oil and electricity taking on average 4.4% of a typical Brit's pay packet (and for those Brit's with the lowest 10% of incomes, that rockets to an eye watering 9.7%), whether you are a tenant or homeowner, keeping your energy costs as low as possible is vital for the household budget and the environment as a whole.
For the last 10 years, every private rental property must have an Energy-Performance-Certificate (EPC) rating. The property is given an energy rating, very similar to those on washing machines and fridges with the rainbow coloured graph, of between A to G (A being the most efficient and G the worst).New legislation comes in to force next spring (2018) for English and Welsh private landlords making it illegal to let a property that does not meet a certain energy rating. After the 1st of April next year, any new tenant moving into a private rented property or an existing tenant renewing their tenancy must have property with an energy performance rating of E or above on the property's EPC and the new law will apply for all prevailing tenancies in the spring of 2020. After April 2018, if a landlord lets a property in the 'F' and 'G' ratings (i.e. those properties with the worst energy ratings) Trading Standards could fine the landlord up to £4,000.
Personally, I have grave apprehensions that many Sidcup landlords may be totally unaware that their Sidcup rental properties could fall below these new legal minimum requirements for energy efficiency benchmarks. Whilst some households may require substantial works to get their Sidcup property from an F/G rating to an E rating or above, my experience is most properties may only need some minor work to lift them from illegal to legal. By planning and acting now, it will mitigate the need to find tradespeople in the spring when every other Sidcup landlord will be panicking and paying top dollar for work to comply.
Whilst there is money and effort involved in upgrading the energy efficiency of rental property, a property that is energy efficient will have greater appeal to tenants and other buy-to-let landlords/investors and this will enable you to obtain higher rents and sale price (when you come to sell your investment).
So, how many properties are there in the area that are F and G rated .. well quite a few in fact. Looking at the whole of the Bexley London Borough Council area, of the 10,556 privately rented properties, there are ..
270 rental properties in the F banding
77 rental properties in the G banding
That means just over one in 30 rental properties in the Sidcup and surrounding area has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G. From April next year it will be illegal to rent out those homes rated F and G homes with a new tenancy.
Talking with the Energy Assessors that carry out our EPC's, they tell me most of a building's heat is lost through draughty windows/doors or poor insulation in the roof and walls. So why not look at your EPC and see what the assessor suggested to improve the efficiency of your property? I can find the EPC of every rental property in Sidcup, so irrespective of whether you are a client of mine or not, don't hesitate to contact me via email (or phone) if you need some guidance on finding out the EPC rating or need a trustworthy contractor that can help you out?
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Paul Long (Director & Author of The Sidcup Property Blog)