Lots of varied housing news hitting the headlines this week, let’s see what we found.
Major rethink of EPC’s called for
The Building Research Establishment has issued a new report ‘Enabling the Home Energy Transition’ that has called for a for rethink of energy performance certificates. This comes at the same time that the government is consulting on a new Home Energy Model.
Some of BRE’s proposals are:-
- EPC’s to have a 5 year life span not 10 year
- More detailed data used for the EPC rating process
- New criteria to determine the EPC rating
- More training for the Domestic Energy Assessors
- Encouraging home owners to use the EPC certificate advice to improve their homes
The BRE says
With targeted reforms, the government can ensure the EPC can really achieve its potential, as a trusted starting point for advice and information on how we can all make our homes better.
Council crackdown on landlords with low EPC rating
One council has been targeting landlords whose EPC falls below the legal requirement of band E to let a property. Those letting out a property below the legal minimum rating have been issued with compliance notice and make improvements otherwise they will face a £5000.00 fine per property, unless they have a legitimate exemption.
The council claim that this drive has resulted in a drop in annual energy costs of an average of £388 per property and saved more than 125.7 tonnes of CO2 over the district.
Councillor Tim Ball says
Its success is a positive step towards improving the energy efficiency of homes in our area and, as domestic properties produce around 40% of carbon emissions in our district, it will help towards our target of net zero emissions by 2030.
Disabled Facilities Grant consultation dropped
The BBC has announced that the government has back tracked on their pledge to consult on increasing the maximum amount available to support disabled people, or landlords in adapting their houses. The Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) is currently capped at £30,000.00 this has been the same since 2008 and has not risen with inflation. The BBC report says that despite the government promising to consult on increasing the maximum amount, it has still yet to do so.
There are over 1.2 million disabled in the PRS in England and this DFG is crucial to their standard of living and that rented properties meet their needs. The NRLA found that landlords are more willing to make adaptations to their property if they were aware of this grant.
Ben Beadle, Chief Executive of the NRLA says
Unless it fully reviews the cap on the Disabled Facilities Grant to better reflect growing costs, the Government will make it impossible for many to afford the adaptations they desperately need.
Ministers need to keep their word and commit to uprating the grants available to disabled people.
He further acknowledges that ‘every disabled person deserves a home that meets their needs’.
And also this week we hear that court delays for possession is getting even worse and is close to breaking point.
Court delays for evictions are now ‘in crisis’
Eviction possessions via the courts are taking longer than ever, are now unacceptable and are ‘in crisis’ says Paul Shamplina, founder of Landlord Action. He examples one landlord, Renee Hoenderkamp, who filed her eviction notice in court in January 2023 and this now in this month, February 2024 is still awaiting a bailiff appointment with the tenant who is still in situ and not paid any rent.
When I contacted the helpline, I was told by Willesden County Court that they can’t chase for a bailiff appointment until it has been 17 weeks. It’s an absolute disgrace.
Paul Shamplina says he admits that this is now an example of the ‘broken’ evictions systems that landlords face. He goes on to say
It’s a system in crisis. The inefficiencies within the court system are causing undue hardship for landlords who simply wish to exercise their legal rights.
Surely, it’s time for substantive reforms, including the option for landlords to employ High Court Enforcement Officers in cases of significant arrears exceeding six months, mitigating the backlog and ensuring a balanced, effective resolution mechanism for both landlords and tenants.
Shockingly, this long wait to evict a tenant is using Section 8 due a tenancy breach, not ‘no fault’ evictions via Section 21.
Private member’s bill on mould in PRS gets 2nd reading
Fleur Anderson, Labour MP for Putney, Roehampton & Southfields has her private members bill, Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 (Amendment) having its second reading on 1st March, which would make it mandatory for private landlords to fix problems including mould within fixed timescales the same as social landlords.
This follows the governments proposals making it mandatory for social housing landlords to investigate hazards within 14 days and make emergency repairs within 24 hours. The MP says that private renters desperately need to be protected by Awaab’s Law.
Fleur Anderson says
While many good, responsible and caring landlords will welcome the extension of Awaab’s Law because they have been fixing mould in a timely fashion for years, my bill is for the benefit of tenants of rogue landlords who refuse to pick up the phone and don’t answer emails for months on end.
The Commons’ health and social care committee is also pushing the government to extend the tightening of mould laws into the PRS.
What is happening to the Renters Reform Bill?
This does not seem to be included in the House of Commons business for February, with other bills taking precedence. Does this mean it has been quietly dropped?
If you want to keep up with what is happening with the Bill, Suzanne at the Independent Landlord is keeping tabs on it here.
Landlord fails to attend court, fined thousands for safety offences
Cannabis growing landlord sentenced to 11 years in prison
Government facing two ways on boiler grants and heat pumps
Big city to consult on more licensing of smaller HMO’s
Mortgage Crisis: thousands of landlords in arrears, hundreds of homes repo’d
Panic U-turn on HMO regulation changes for asylum seekers
Newsround will be back next week.