Thousands of properties in the private rented sector may need to be retrofitted to meet new EPC standards, but there are some landlord grants available.
Property agent membership body Propertymark has recently urged letting agents to look into the options available for the properties on their books to upgrade their energy ratings. There are several landlord grants out there that can be taken advantage of, says the body.
One of the latest schemes to be unrolled by the government is landlord grants towards upgrading the boilers and heating systems in their properties. The Boiler Upgrade Scheme is available for homeowners and those with second homes, too.
The scheme offers grants of up to £5,000 towards the cost of an air source heat pump and £6,000 for a ground source heat pump. It is also offering £5,000 towards a biomass boiler for properties in rural areas and those not connected to the gas grid in England and Wales.
What other landlord grants and incentives are out there?
As of 1st April, the rate of VAT to be paid on certain energy saving materials has been reduced to 0%. This rate will be in place for five years, before reverting to the 5% reduced rate of VAT.
The government also has a Green Deal strategy in place, which can be used for a range of measures in a rental property. These include replacing windows and doors, installing secondary glazing, using energy efficient lighting and upgrading heating.
Landlords must get a property assessed to access the Green Deal. There is a Green Deal Finance Plan available to help with the costs of upgrades.
Grants are also available in certain instances for energy efficiency improvements where the tenants are on benefits, for example. Find more information here.
There is also an electric vehicle chargepoint grant for landlords currently available. The grant amount given is per chargepoint socket installed. It provides up to 75% of the cost towards the purchase and installation of a chargepoint socket, limited to £350 per grant.
Landlords can receive up to 200 grants a year for residential properties, and a further 100 for commercial properties.
Making a property more appealing
Current Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) state that all privately rented properties must have an EPC rating of E or higher. However, it is widely reported that these could be set to change within the next few years, raising the bar for rental homes.
With escalating energy bills alongside a greater emphasis on environmental responsibility, tenants are already beginning to seek out more energy efficient properties. Therefore, landlords who factor this in could see more demand for their homes.
Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for Propertymark, said: “The challenge of retrofitting the UK’s housing stock is going to be huge, but funding schemes are now starting to emerge and Propertymark continues to urge policy makers to come up with more incentives for the sector.
“Better energy efficiency can reduce bills for tenants and make a property a better proposition to be let out, but there is not a single solution.
“Now is the time for letting agents to begin conversations with their landlords to look at all the options and explore how they can maximise grants and other financial support available.”
Older homes falling behind
As the emphasis on boosting the country’s eco credentials continues, it is likely that more landlord grants could be rolled out in the future to bring the private rented sector up to standard.
Older housing stock is the least energy efficient generally, with most modern new-builds boasting the highest energy efficiency ratings. One recent survey from Shawbrook Bank noted that landlords are already leaning towards more energy efficient property investments.
A report from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities also highlighted the stark difference between the EPC ratings of the UK’s older homes compared with new-builds.