Scrapping net zero targets could cost private renters billions
By Anna Tickle, Research & Campaigns Volunteer
Scrapping net zero targets for landlords could be disastrous for private renters. Fuel poverty is still rising. Energy efficiency policies are a key part of the solution to the cost-of-living crisis.
Citizens Advice research* shows delays in implementing energy efficiency standards will have cost renters £2.8 billion in wasted energy since 2020.
The UK’s net zero strategy is a legally binding requirement to reach zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Key aspects of the strategy include:
- Ending the sale of new petrol and diesel vans and cars by 2030
- Helping households upgrade from gas boilers to low-carbon heating
- Requiring buy-to-let landlords to bring their properties up to minimum Energy Performance Certificate level C by 2025; all rental properties would meet this standard by 2028.
However in September the prime minister announced that the government would delay the targets for vans and cars and boilers and scrap altogether the instruction to landlords.
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows the efficiency of a property’s energy expenditure in relation to its running costs. It is completed on A-G scale, with ‘A’ being very efficient and ‘G’ being inefficient.
Improving the energy efficiency of homes would make a major contribution to greenhouse gas reduction. But higher standards would also have been a double benefit to renters; they would no longer have to put up with cold homes or unnecessarily high bills.
The new plan is to encourage households to ‘upgrade where possible’. What does this mean for private renters?
Abandoning changes to EPC standards will have the biggest impact on those already struggling.
Poor insulation can lead to problems beyond causing energy bills to soar. Heat leaking from walls, roof, and windows leaves many renters facing an unacceptable choice sky-high bills or a cold home.
Other problems caused by a poorly insulated home include:
- Cold, damp or mouldy homes can cause health problems, such as asthma, especially in children.
- Poor insulation can increase the chances of mice and bugs entering your home.
- Cold temperature can result in frozen pipes. This can stop your heating and hot water from working, and/or could burst the pipes, causing unnecessary damage and further costs.
We also believe weakening net zero policies could have a negative long-term impact on the economy. With the cost-of-living crisis and the winter months approaching this is yet another delay to rental reform.
Reform is urgent
4.4 million (20%) of households in England live in privately rented homes, in Epsom & Ewell 16%. Across the country rapidly rising rents are causing a debt crisis. Fear of eviction leaves many unable or afraid to challenge these costs. Widely anticipated new energy efficiency standards would have helped.
That is why at Citizens Advice, we’re urging the government to pass the Renters (Reform) Bill, bring housing benefit more into line with market rents, and reconsider the change to net zero commitments.
* Why delaying action on net zero will cost consumers, Citizens Advice, 20/09/23