Landlords told to wrap-up draughty homes – or face fines

Croydon Council is offering private landlords advice on accessing grants for home insulation schemes to help reduce heating bills and fuel poverty among the boroughs’ private renters – while also threatening fines of up to £4,000 for those who don’t bring their properties up to standard.

The council has announced a “green homes programme” which they say will help save private tenants money on their energy bills by making their properties more energy efficient.

Smart move: the council is offering advice on accessing grants for insulation

An energy performance certificate (EPC), which tells you how energy efficient your home is, sees an independent inspector provide a grade from A through G.

By improving EPC ratings in more properties, Croydon seeks to address domestic heating and electricity usage, which makes up almost half of CO2 emissions in the borough.

The council has already identified 1,400 homes in the borough which fall below the legal minimum energy efficiency standard, with EPCs rating of F and G. Heating, insulation, and other factors can lead to low EPC ratings, and very low ratings can lead to properties not being allowed to be rented out by law, and the landlords facing penalties of thousands of pounds.

Through the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard programme, the council is advising private landlords to increase energy performance certificate ratings, keeping more homes compliant, meanwhile bringing down home energy costs for tenants.

This programme is part of a wider set of home energy efficiency initiatives, including the council’s successful Croydon Healthy Homes scheme, which offers free support to low-income and vulnerable residents to help reduce their fuel bills and make their home more energy efficient.

The service offers tenants and homeowners advice and support accessing external grants from the government and energy companies to insulate their homes and improve the energy efficiency of their properties.

The council has recently brought its Croydon Healthy Homes service in-house, recruiting a team of qualified advisors to offer a more flexible approach to addressing fuel poverty. The team will be working closely with other council services and the voluntary community sector.

“We have set a target for Croydon to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, and home energy consumption is the most significant contributor to CO2 emissions in the borough, so we must do everything in our power to bring those numbers down,” said Muhammad Ali, the council cabinet member for sustainable Croydon.

“If we can get a majority of the properties we have already identified to meet or exceed the minimum energy standard, it will be a major step toward our goal.

“This is also about affordability – if too many properties fail their EPC rating in Croydon, that will take them off the market and drive rent costs up. Inefficiency is also costing tenants money on their increasingly high fuel bills – leading to fuel poverty – so it is deeply beneficial to provide as much support as we can to families, all while reaching our climate goals.”

The council’s own housing stock has an average EPC rating of C. Where individual properties fall below a C, the council is working to improve these properties as part of its asset management strategy.

More information on Croydon Healthy Homes and the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard programme can be found on the council website, as well as tips on how to lower your own fuel bills.

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2 Responses to Landlords told to wrap-up draughty homes – or face fines

  1. Good news. But how many Council homes fall below the ‘legal minimum energy efficiency standard’?

  2. jackgriffin1933 says:

    Croydon being somewhat slow off the mark here, in that MEES came into force on April 1st 2018.

    At that time, MEES applied only to properties being let for the first time or where the was lease is being renewed. (There are some exceptions – listed buildings etc).

    However, they apply to all rented homes from April 2020 (and from April 2023, all rented commercial properties must meet the grade too).

    The legal minimum EPC for a property to be lettable is E, and many properties in F and G can achieve that relatively easily with a change of boiler or the most basic insulation measures.

    The main problem lies in enforcement and fine threats are pretty meaningless (and prob. more so in the case of Croydon who one would expect to lack the resources currently to pursue this), as the main levers suggested by Government are landlord licensing and tenant reporting.

    The first has turned out to be a cash cow for many authorities, but pointless for tenants as very few LAs bother to inspect.

    And the latter always runs the risk of landlords then resorting to retaliatory evictions, despite notional protections. The best excuse for a landlord though is that the eviction is necessary for improvement works to take place. Bit of a Catch 22 for some tenants there.

    More effective potentially is the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 – as poor energy performance is often associated with damp and mould – which includes social housing, but then again it is a matter of resource for enforcement.

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