The majority of homes in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are rented rather than owned. Their occupants often get frustrated because they feel they feel powerless to improve their home’s energy efficiency and nervous about asking landlords to improve things.
However this is about to change.
There is a little known regulation that sets a Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) for rented homes, based on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating. This has applied since April 2018 to new tenancies, but from April 2020, no home with an EPC rating of F or G can be let, even to an existing tenant, unless the landlord has registered with the council for an exemption and has spent £3500 trying to improve the energy efficiency.
EPCs are a blunt instrument, but this could be a big deal because there are currently 1200 of these EPC F&G rented homes in Greater Cambridge. If these were all upgraded to EPC E, it should nominally reduce tenants’ bills by well over £100K pa
Local Councils (in our case Cambridgeshire County Council) have the power to enforce this, and can issue fines of up to £4,000 for non-compliance, but there has not yet been a single enforcement action.
We are calling on Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council to take over these powers from the County and then enforce these regulations properly. After all, both councils have set targets of getting to Net Zero by 2050 and declared Climate Emergencies, and this one of the few ways they have to get landlords to improve the existing housing stock.
Many landlords and their agents will be willing to comply with the law and help avert the looming climate catastrophe. To do this the first step is to check the EPC. To help we’ve used an opensource data set to map all Greater Cambridge EPC F&G rented homes so landlords, tenants, campaigners and council enforcement officers can see a summary of the EPC data on each property. This can often help explain why it was given a particular rating. Sometimes the rating is fair, sometimes out of date. Sometimes however it is unfair. For example, we notice that in many cases the EPC data says “no loft insulation (assumed)”. This probably means the inspector didn’t have a ladder, so didn’t bother to look in the attic.
In other cases, a property is genuinely horrible. But even in this case, relatively low cost measures such as improving the loft insulation, installing more low energy lighting and insulating the hot water cylinder will often be sufficient to upgrade the EPC.
Considerate landlords will do this before the winter, not wait until they get an enforcement letter.