August 2014: An important Early Day Motion (EDM) for London is currently doing the rounds in the House of Commons. EDM 95 ‘Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for Private Rented Homes‘ sets out:
- the Private Rented Sector (PRS) has over five times more homes in EPC Bands F and G than the social housing sector
- nearly half the PRS households living in Band F and G properties are in fuel poverty
- the Energy Act 2011, placed a duty on the Government to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for the PRS by April 2018
- the EDM calls on the Government to ensure that the regulations are made clear and enforceable by specifying Band E as the minimum standard in all cases, and by keeping exemptions to an absolute minimum.
Suprisingly, only 4 London MPs have as yet signed the EDM:
- Corbyn, Jeremy (Labour) Islington North
- Jackson, Glenda (Labour) Hampstead and Kilburn
- Love, Andrew (Labour) Edmonton
- McDonnell, John (Labour) Hayes and Harlington
The Mayor’s recent consultation on a London Housing Strategy sets out how critical the PRS is to London and the challenges faced by Londoners living in rented accommodation. These include:
- Rents are higher in the capital, with the median monthly rent for a private rented home at £1,300, compared with a national average of £595.20 Private sector tenants in London spend an average of 36% of their gross household income on rent.
- the proportion of private renting households with children has increased sharply, from 19% to 29% between 2001 and 2011, indicating a growing reliance on this sector by families.
- Retrofitting in the private rented sector has always been challenging, but the Mayor remains committed to seeing progress.
Together with the knowledge of the poorer levels of energy efficiency in rental properties, London clearly has much to do to help tackle energy costs and fuel poverty in the PRS.
The Mayor has introduced a ‘London Rental Standard‘ (updated in May 2014) setting out a voluntary set of minimum standards that the Mayor expects from landlords, managing agents and letting agents that operate in London’s private rented sector. Though London’s PRS faces particular stresses on energy, the Standard does not go above the national regulation requirements but simply points to the Energy Act’s defined minimum standard on energy efficiency:
- Energy efficiency: landlords must work towards compliance with duties imposed upon them by the Energy Act 2011 especially related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.
And, in relation to this Energy Act 2011 duties, in July DECC issued a consultation on the of the introduction of the Private Rented Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations setting out a series of questions around the scope and implementation of the regulations (with a deadline for responses of 2 September 2014). Minutes from a working group that lead to the development of the consultation can be viewed here.
London’s particular challenges are not picked up anywhere in the consultation document or impact assessment. Delivering energy efficiency to London’s PRS was however looked at in a National Energy Action (NEA) seminar earlier this year, which highlighted London’s added logistical, demographic and architectural challenges. Presentations from the event can be viewed here.
Much more information on the PRS is set out in the April 2014 ‘Housing In London‘ evidence base document.