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Tenants Right to request consent to energy efficiency improvements

Energy Performance Certificates

Introduction

With effect from 1st April 2016 tenants will be able to request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to privately rented properties. The landlord will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent. It will, however, be the responsibility of the tenants to ensure that the works are funded and the intention is that no upfront costs should fall on the landlord, unless the landlord agrees to contribute. There are separate regulations requiring properties to be brought up to an E rating on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which are effective from the 1st April 2018. Click here for more information.

Scope - when can a tenant request consent to energy efficiency improvements?

The regulations apply to the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. This means: -

Any property within the definition of a domestic privately rented property is within the scope of the tenant's rights regulations, regardless of whether the property has an EPC at the time of the tenant making a request. However, where a building would not be within the scope of the EPC regulations, a landlord would not be required to provide consent to improvements. Such situations include where the building has the required and evidenced permissions for demolition; or where the building is a temporary structure with an evidenced and planned time of use of two years or less.

Improvements covered

This means any energy efficiency improvement which qualifies for the Green Deal and it also extends to installing a gas supply in an off gas property where the mains are within 23 metres from the property.

Nature of the request

The request is for the landlord to give consent to the carrying out of specified works. This extends not just to the immediate landlord but also, in the case of leasehold properties, to a superior landlord as well as the freeholder. Consent must not be unreasonably refused by any of them. Consent is widely defined so that it is not just for permission under the terms of a tenancy agreement, e.g. a consent to alterations clause, but it can extend to asking for a right to carry out work, e.g. work outside the boundaries of the property which is let. This is particularly important in the case of a block of flats.

The tenant's request process

The process is as follows:-

The end of Green Deal Finance

Due to low take up and concerns over industry standards, the government announced the end of funding for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund in June 2015. A replacement for this scheme was promised at the time after consultation with industry and consumers but details have not been announced and progress appears to be slow. It is not expected until 2017 at this point.

The lack of Green Deal Finance obviously makes it more difficult for tenants to fund energy efficiency improvements. However, they can still attain funding through projects such as ECO or local government grants.

Cases where the landlord does not need to consider the request

The landlord or superior landlord can refuse consent where -

Cases where a tenant cannot make a request

A landlord can ignore a request in the following circumstances:-

Funding for energy efficiency measures

The tenant would seek funding to cover the cost of any relevant energy efficiency improvements through one or more of the following sources: (i) Green Deal Finance Plan or future equivalent; (ii) the Energy Company Obligation or similar future scheme, (iii) grant, for example, from a local authority, devolved administration or national Government; or funding from the tenant's own sources should the tenant choose this option. The landlord may also wish to part fund the measures, but this would be at their discretion. Landlords would not be required to provide consent to improvements that entail an upfront or net cost.

Reasonable refusal

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

Timing

What is not clear is whether the landlord can attach conditions to the consent.

Implementation date for regulations

Enforcement and Applications to the First Tier Tribunal

Further reading and guidance

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has prepared more detailed guidance on this. It is available to read here

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