Labour MP seeking to close energy efficiency loophole

The Government is under pressure from the Labour party to legislate against a loophole that allows landlords to avoid giving tenants information on how energy efficient their property is if a tenant rents out an individual room.

Dr Alan Whitehead, MP for Southampton Test and member of the Energy and Climate Change Committee is to hold a private members bill later this month. He will urge the government to introduce a Bill to address the issue with landlords with properties of multiple occupancy. This includes bedsits and hostels.

The current law is that all domestic buildings in the UK, whether for sale or let, require an Energy Performance Certificate detailing the energy performance rating of the building. This gives the potential buyer or tenant information on the likely cost of heating and power together with the level of carbon dioxide emissions. The current law does not make it clear whether landlords are required to provide this information for single lettings in a multiple occupancy building.

The proposed Bill would require an EPC for the whole building regardless of the extent of the letting. Dr Whitehead said:

“The Bill will have an immediate impact by giving tenants access to clear information about the energy efficiency of a property before they sign a contract with the landlord. The Bill would have a more significant longer term impact of ensuring properties reach an E-grade in energy efficiency over the next five years.” “Because HMO landlords renting out their rooms on an individual basis don't at present have to provide EPCs," he said, "they avoid what was supposed to be a universal government requirement across the private rented sector to give tenants the right to request reasonable energy efficiency improvements and to bring the energy efficiency of properties up to grade E by 2018.” "This Bill draws in HMOs under the scope of the 2011 Energy Act, which was always I believe the original intention of the Government but which hasn't happened because of this loophole. It is a simple way of getting tenants a fairer deal, and making sure the Government's aspirations on improving energy efficiency in the private rented sector do move forward. I hope the Government gives the Bill a fair hearing next week." Director of Policy and Communications at UK Green Building Council said:

“This would be a very sensible approach. Privately rented homes are some of the poorest performers on energy efficiency, leading to tenants with unhealthy homes and high bills. I hope the government does the decent thing and accepts this is a loophole that needs to be shut tightly, and doesn't stand in the way because of any misconceived notions of red tape."

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