The majority of changes to the building industry are those affecting the private rented sector. “Part L” of the Building Regulations governs the “Conservation of Fuel and Power” in new and existing dwellings, and helps set out the energy efficiency standards that must be adhered to in domestic buildings.
In previous years, Part L helped the industry to switch to condensing gas boiler technology by making their installation mandatory in all new homes and most replacement situations.
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) were made mandatory for all rented homes in October 2008, rating all properties from ‘A’ to ‘G’ (‘A’ being the excellent, ‘G’ being worst) scale of energy efficiency and making recommendations on how it can be improved. At the time, information from these homes lead to an understanding that most average rented properties in the UK are ‘D-rated’, with 8% ‘F-rated’ and 3% G-rated. These ratings indicate a much higher rate of poorly rated properties in the rented sector, rather than the private owner occupier sector.
Since April 2016, tenants have been able to request that landlords carry out ‘reasonable’ efficiency improvements, but as of April 2018, if the efficiency of the home is poor, changes will become mandatory.
As of 1 April 2018, all rented properties must have a minimum energy efficiency rating of E and above in order for it to be rented out to new tenants, for tenancy renewals or extensions to the present lease. This will make in the region of 500,000 homes that are ‘F’ and ‘G’ rated illegal to rent.
As of 2020, the regulations will tighten further to apply to all private rented homes, including existing tenancies. Failure to comply will come with a fine up to £5,000.
How They Can be Improved
Improvements to a buildings efficiency is possible through various guises, or a combination thereof. In some cases it may the provision a replacement hot water and heating system, for a more up to date boiler, with assurances that all pipes are “lagged” or insulated whilst installed, which would protect from heat being lost as the hot water is dispersed to various radiators in the home. There is also the provision of insulation in lofts, internal wall insulation (IWI), external wall insulation (EWI), replacement of all external windows and doors, provision of mechanically controlled ventilation systems and much more!
Surveyors and Architects will be able to help with this industry change, to guide you or your client’s through the process of improving the energy efficiency of the building.
How this could affect the Solicitors
Where a disabled person is renting a home temporarily, it is important to note the above changes which legal professionals can use when negotiating terms of a lease for their client. An EPC is usually provided with the property particulars, so there should be an understanding at the time of considering the viability of the property, as to whether or not it requires improvements to its energy performance.
In usual circumstances a home is bought under a trust, bought specifically for the disabled individual with their needs in mind. In all circumstances, a building condition survey report would normally include a list of works to be carried out, as well as an “Energy Performance Certificate”. The EPC would indicate the property rating, and prior to the disabled client moving in to the property, necessary work would likely be carried out to improve the dwelling’s performance.
Most persons with life changing conditions and injuries require higher than average heating temperatures, so improving the dwelling’s energy efficiency would likely ensure the building remains warm and draught free, would require less use of energy to run and with the avoidance of damp would prolong the lifetime of finishes and products within a home.