‘Green deal’ set to prompt landlords’ backlashUnited Kingdom
Jim Pickard, Political Correspondent
Hundreds of thousands of landlords could be forced to raise the energy efficiency of their homes as part of the coalition’s attempts to tackle climate change and reduce people’s energy bills.
Chris Huhne, energy secretary, is pushing ahead with a “green deal” to encourage people to insulate their homes on a huge scale. The plan is being put through parliament using an “energy security and green economy bill” later in the year.
Ministers want landlords in the private rented sector in the first instance to improve home efficiency through voluntary measures. However, the FT has learnt that they plan to use the bill to give themselves the power, if necessary, to legislate by a “backstop date” of about 2015 to compel landlords to pay for energy improvements.
The move is likely to prompt a backlash from property owners who will fear that the move could mean thousands of pounds of extra costs.
However, the plan will be welcomed by environmental campaigners, with Martyn Williams, parliamentary campaigner for Friends of the Earth, saying it would be a “very positive development”.
“Legislation is essential to protect households who live in the worst-insulated and least energy efficient private rented accommodation from high energy bills and fuel poverty,” he said. “Improving the worst properties cannot be left to chance.”
Fifteen organisations including Age Concern, FoE, Citizens Advice and Crisis recently wrote to the government calling for landlords to be banned from renting out homes which were not properly insulated.
The issue has prompted strong discussions between ministers in the communities department, including Grant Shapps, housing minister, who have been arguing the case for landlords.
One source in the energy department said that ministers were close to striking a compromise although they had not yet worked out the exact mechanism to compel landlords not to stand in the way of tenants who want to make energy improvements.
Greg Barker, climate change minister, said there would be no immediate cost to landlords from the legislation. ‘But we are looking at triggers and nudges to maximise uptake,’ he said.
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