From Sky News:
Rishi Sunak is planning to delay energy efficiency targets for rented homes following pressure from landlords about the cost of the improvements.
The overhaul is part of a wider review of the government's environmental policies, which some Tory MPs fear are too expensive and will hurt the party's chances at the next general election.
The current proposals would see all new tenancies required to have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating of C or above by 2025 - where A is the best and G is the worst - with this expanded to all existing tenancies by 2028.
The policy is intended to reduce bills for tenants and stop leaky homes adding to emissions, but on Tuesday night, a Whitehall source pointed to the cost it would have on landlords.
They told Sky News: "We remain committed to our environmental objectives but we cannot overburden landlords facing cost of living pressures...we support delaying requirements for new minimum energy efficiency requirements in the private rented sector."
As well as delaying the targets, the government wants to overhaul the EPC system.
The source said: "More generally, we recognise that the EPC system which was designed as an informational tool to meet the requirement of EU membership, needs fundamental reform. Further details will be set out as soon as possible."
The change, first reported by the Financial Times, is likely to anger campaigners who earlier this week urged the government to stick to its plan.
After Michael Gove, the Housing Secretary, said he believed ministers were asking "too much too quickly" of landlords, Chris Venables, political director of the Green Alliance think tank, said: "With millions of people on the front line of a cost-of-living crisis driven by sky-rocketing energy bills, it is alarming to see Sunak proposing to weaken already insufficient plans to make sure renters have well-insulated homes.
"Letting landlords off the hook will only further risk the government missing its legally binding climate and fuel poverty targets, never mind playing politics with the lives of the elderly and the vulnerable as we head into another difficult winter."
Climate change think tank E3G estimated that improving energy efficiency would save renters an average of £570, but landlords would be expected to pay the first £10,000 of any energy efficiency work themselves.
Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said ministers need to develop a proper plan that includes a fair financial package to support improvements in the private rented sector.
Flagship recycling policy to be delayed
The government also confirmed on Tuesday that it is delaying its flagship recycling reforms by a year following industry warnings the scheme will drive up food prices.
The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said plans to force manufacturers to cover the costs of collecting and recycling packaging will be pushed back by a year to help drive down inflation.
The Extended Producers Responsibility (EPR) scheme was due to come into effect in October 2024, but will now take off in October 2025.
The change follows months of campaigning from food and retail bosses, who argued the reforms will cost manufacturers £2bn annually and likely prompt further price increases.
DEFRA said it will use the additional year to discuss with industry ways to "reduce the costs of implementation wherever possible".
The government is reviewing its green policies after the Conservative's narrow and unexpected by-election victory in Uxbridge last week.
Labour's loss was widely attributed to a backlash over the expansion of ULEZ, which would charge drivers of old polluting petrol and diesel vehicles at least £12.50 per day.
The result has reignited a debate on the cost and speed of policies to reduce carbon emissions.
Some Tories believe creating a dividing line with Labour on the issue will help them gain ground on the Opposition in the polls.
On Monday, Downing Street said that ministers are scrutinising existing net zero pledges "in light of some of the cost-of-living challenges".
And Rishi Sunak said that while the UK is still committed to reaching the climate target by 2050, any legislation to encourage a green switch would have to be "proportionate and pragmatic" and not add extra costs and "hassle" to households.
More than half of – 52% – of landlords with properties that require improvements to upgrade their energy efficiency ratings with incoming regulations have considered selling, according to a new report.
A survey conducted by The Mortgage Works (TMW) comprising 600 landlords found those with affected properties felt they would not be able to complete or finance the works needed in the time set out by the government.
The government has suggested a change to the law requiring all new rental tenancies to have a minimum rating of C and above by 1 April 2025, while existing tenancies, which must now have an EPC rating of E or above, will have to meet this target by 2028.
Those with larger portfolios were more likely to consider selling, with 58% of landlords with six to 10 properties saying that they had thought about offloading some or all of their properties. This figure rose to 63% landlords with 20 or more properties.
Just over a third – 35% – of landlords with one property said they thought about disposing of their asset.
Daniel Clinton, head of lending at The Mortgage Works, said: “With currently less than four years before all new tenancies need to be in properties rated EPC C or above, there are still landlords who need to undertake remedial work on at least one of their properties. They are therefore understandably concerned about how they will both fund the work, find someone to do it and have it completed in time.
“The side effect of these concerns is that a significant number of landlords admit they are ready to give up and already considering selling properties.
“An unintended consequence of this sentiment could result in a backwards step in meeting the government’s target around climate change, for example, if these properties are taken up by the owner occupier market, where there are currently no minimum energy efficiency requirements.
“Working with the sector to understand how best to help landlords improve the energy efficiency of their properties and the timeframe within which they can do this may ultimately lead a better outcome for everybody.”
On the back of The Mortgage Works’ report released yesterday, Propertymark has expressed concerns.
Propertymark policy and campaigns manager Timothy Douglas said: “As domestic energy use accounts for 14 percent of overall UK emissions and 90% of homes in England currently use fossil fuels, improving the energy efficiency of the nation’s housing stock is one of the most significant challenges in reaching net zero emissions.
“If the alarming number of landlords who have considered selling up within the TMW report go on to do so, it will have a detrimental effect on not only the government’s ambitions to reach net zero, but also for the thousands of renters looking to be housed as stock levels deplete.
“In some parts of the market, this will put additional burdens on local authorities and increase demand for social rented housing as not everyone can afford to buy.
“To support the longevity of the private rented sector, the government must introduce realistic and achievable targets that take into account the diversity of the country’s housing stock. Furthermore, without incentives and sustained funding options that landlords can tap into, it is unlikely that the government’s proposals for energy efficiency will be met.”
This guidance provides advice to those working within the home buying and selling process and those moving home. Read it alongside the guidance on what you should do to keep safe.
Following the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, it is necessary to re-introduce some measures to manage the virus. This guidance sets out what these measures are and what you should do to protect yourself and others.
The housing market in England remains open. This means that people looking to move home can both continue with planned moves and view new properties to move into in the future. Estate and letting agents, removers, valuers, and people in sales and letting offices and show homes can continue working. Everyone should follow the guidance below to keep themselves and others safe.
We urge everyone involved in the home buying and selling process to continue to follow good hygiene practices, including regular hand-washing, sanitising, and cleaning. These measures will help prevent the spread of infection.
We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay moves, for example if one of those involved becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process or has to self-isolate.
All businesses should follow the government’s latest guidance for employers and businesses. Individual sector bodies may issue their own supplementary guidance in order to protect their members and their clients.
Face coverings should be worn by members of staff in estate agent premises, in accordance with the guidelines set out below.
Property agents, conveyancers and other professionals may choose to retain some modifications to how they work to reduce the risk from COVID-19. These changes could impact your move and may include initial virtual viewings before in-person viewings, asking you to vacate your current property during viewings, and ensuring your property is thoroughly cleaned before someone else views it or moves in. We would ask that you cooperate with these measures where they are in place.
The government has provided detailed guidance on reducing the risk of COVID-19 in workplaces. Employers should consider this guidance when completing their health and safety risk assessment, to help them decide which mitigations to put in place.
Those renting a property, letting agents and landlords should be aware of and follow the government guidance on coronavirus and renting which contains further advice that may also be applicable such as on possession proceedings, repairs, maintenance and health and safety.
In most cases, you’re not required to self-isolate if you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, and any of the following apply:
However, if you live in the same household as someone with a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, or are a close contact of someone with a suspected or confirmed case of the Omicron variant, you will be required to self-isolate regardless of your age or vaccination status. NHS Test and Trace will contact you if this is the case.
The following key general protections continue to apply both to those moving home and those working in the industry:
All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change completion dates where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.
Once you have exchanged contracts or signed a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to purchase or rent the property. We encourage all parties to be as flexible as possible and be prepared to delay moves if necessary; for example if someone involved in the transaction becomes ill with COVID-19 during the moving process, or has to self-isolate.
If you are about to enter into a legally binding contract, you should discuss the possible implications of COVID-19 with your legal professional and consider making contractual provisions or other necessary measures to manage these risks.
You should not expect to immediately be able to move into any home where people have COVID-19 or are self-isolating. There is a greater risk that home moves may need to be delayed if someone in the transaction shows symptoms of COVID-19 or is self-isolating.
We continue to urge caution and personal responsibility in situations involving physical contact with others.
In England, face coverings must now be worn in shops and shopping centres, in estate agent offices and transport hubs and on public transport. See further details on the settings in scope. In other indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet. Estate agents premises and other premises offering goods or services for sale will remain open, but customers and staff should wear face coverings in these settings.
Some people, including children under 11, are exempt from having to wear face coverings in any setting. Furthermore, anyone with a health condition or disability, which means they cannot wear a face covering, has a reasonable excuse for not wearing one.
Aside from self-isolation rules as detailed above, there are no legal limits on the households which may view a home in person. We would, however, continue to recommend that buyers take advantage of any opportunities to view homes remotely before committing to view in person.
In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should continue to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet. It is important that everyone continues to follow the safe hygiene practices as described above, and you should let in fresh air if people are viewing your property.
Tradespeople can continue to work in other people’s homes unless customers or tradespeople are self-isolating, as detailed above. In indoor settings where a face covering is not legally required, you should continue to wear a face covering in enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet.
Members of the public should ensure their homes are clean and safe before tradespeople enter. This may involve cleaning items being carried by removals firms, wiping surfaces such as worktops and door handles, letting fresh air into rooms, and seeking to delay work if either party is showing COVID-19 symptoms.
The above guidance describes the minimum best practices you should follow to help keep yourself and others safe.
If you want additional measures or reasonable conditions in place for your move, please talk to the appropriate business about how to proceed.
These measures could include, for example, placing a cap on the number of visitors viewing your home at any one time. These measures are at the discretion of the homeowner and we would ask you to accommodate their wishes.
Agents and other industry professionals should ensure their clients are aware of and comply with these additional requirements, where they do not discriminate against protected characteristics.
Published 22 July 2021
Last updated 30 November 2021
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