Removing Energy Efficiency Barriers for Landlords
In a recent article, Andrew Warren, Director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, raises a fundamental disconnect in the energy efficiency improvement process. I’ll quote him verbatim as I can’t find a simpler way to express the problem:
"Why should a landlord, who doesn’t pay the fuel bills, fund measures to reduce these fuel bills? In turn, why should a tenant pay for improvements to a property that belongs to somebody else?"
That’s the starting point, and clearly understood. He goes on to show that, even where owner and tenant agree to carry out improvements, the legal realities of leasehold agreements confuse and complicate (and don’t lawyers just love that!). In any multi-tenanted property (e.g. flats, retail units) responsibility for repair and maintenance of the various elements of the building are divided between the landlord and tenants. Hence determining a fair division of improvement costs can prove difficult.
Andrew proposes a simple solution. Section 35 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1987 permits either landlord or a leaseholder to vary the lease to ensure it complies with certain minimum standards. These are currently restricted to:
- Repair & maintenance
- The provision of reasonably necessary services
- Insurance arrangements, and
- The computation of the service charge.
He proposes the addition of "...reasonable measures to improve the energy efficiency of the flat/commercial premises and of the building of which it forms part."
Primary legislation is unnecessary – the act can be modified by a Statutory Instrument alone. The most elegant solution to any problem is nearly always the simplest, and this seems simply elegant to me. I have forwarded the article to my MP, to highlight the issue – I hope others might do the same.
This is a guest post written by Tim Bull, director of Northampton-based property energy efficiency specialists 2pr. He is accredited by NHER/SAVA to produce Commercial and Domestic Energy Performance Certificates, Home Condition Reports and Surveys. National Energy Services has 20 years’ experience of providing strategic advice, stock profiling and other energy rating services to social landlords, local authorities and housing associations.
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