Your guide to damp and mould in rented properties

Winter presents the ‘perfect storm’ of conditions that can trigger episodes of damp, mould and condensation. While it can be concerning to see black patches develop or water running down the walls, many issues are easily fixed. Knowing who is responsible for prevention and treatment in rented properties is the essential place to start, as our guide explains. 

Know what damp you’re dealing with

There are three main types of damp and knowing the difference will establish the course of treatment and by whom. Rising damp is when moisture below a building is drawn up through bricks and mortar, and it’s this moisture that encourages mould growth. A lack of a damp course – or a damp course that’s failing – are the most common reasons for rising damp, and this issue needs resolving by the landlord.

The landlord is also responsible for rectifying penetrating damp, which is a result of failing structures, such as broken guttering or a  leaky downpipe. It’s important to note that while a landlord is responsible for repairs involving rising and penetrating damp, tenants should alert their landlord or managing agent if they notice blocked gutters, peeling wallpaper or bubbling paintwork – especially if it’s occurring on the interior surface of an outside wall.

The third type of damp – ambient damp – is the most common and reducing it is a shared responsibility between the tenant and the landlord. Damp and mould are most frequently caused by condensation – warm, moist air that turns into water droplets when it meets colder surfaces. Many everyday actions produce condensation – from taking a shower and drying wet washing inside, to boiling a kettle and even having a conversation.

Prevention and cure

If there is a suspicion of rising or penetrating damp, a specialist company may need to be deployed by the landlord to find the root cause and undertake repairs. Cosmetic redecorating will also be the responsibility of the landlord, unless agreed otherwise.

Condensation is a trickier issue as improving insulation standards in let properties can actually contribute to increased condensation, unless well mitigated, as homes are now more airtight with fewer cracks and gaps where air can naturally escape or enter.

We know asking tenants not to breathe or bathe simply isn’t possible so ventilation is crucial, especially when cooking, showering and drying clothes inside. Windows should be open or kept ajar whenever safely possible to let moist air escape and extractor fans should be installed in rooms susceptible to high humidity – bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms as a minimum.

On the note of wet washing, this can be a hard aspect to tackle in flats, especially those without balconies or outside drying options. In these cases, a condensing tumble dryer or a dehumidifier is something to consider.

As well as ventilation, a steady, even temperature throughout a property is a useful tool in the fight against condensation. Avoid letting a property get too cold inside by keeping the central heating on low – warm air of around 18° and warm surfaces are what you ideally need to stop condensation forming.

Everyday actions to prevent condensation, damp & mould

Small lifestyle tweaks can make a big difference around the home, so here are eight to encourage:

  1.     Keep lids on saucepans when cooking
  2.     Keep the bathroom door shut when bathing
  3.     Open a window in any room where washing is drying
  4.     Wipe condensation off window sills promptly
  5.     Move furniture away from outside walls to improve air circulation
  6.     Boil only enough water required to cut a kettle’s boiling duration
  7.     Air a property on a regular basis by opening as many windows as safely possible
  8.     Use anti-mould and condensation paint when decorating

If you would like more information about mould and damp in lieu of Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 and the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 in England, please contact us today.

The pros and cons of longer tenancy lengths

Results of the latest English Housing Survey (EHS) have brought the issue of long-length tenancies back into the spotlight. While the idea of making 3-year tenancies mandatory was abandoned by the Government in 2019, following an extensive consultation, the survey results have highlighted how renters are choosing to stay in the same rental property for extended periods.

The EHS found the new average stay in a privately rented property is now 4.3 years – surpassing the three-year benchmark that was widely rejected as a mandatory term. It’s a trend that has been building for a number of years, with the average tenancy length rising from 3.9 years in 2016/17 and 4.1 years in 2017/18.

The findings may prompt more landlords to consider offering longer-term tenancies but there are pros and cons to weigh up when it comes to offering rental agreements of more than 12 months. Here’s our quick-read considerations guide but for tailored advice, please contact our lettings team.

Pros:

  • Void periods are reduced: any void is a drain on finances so reducing the number of times you have to find new tenants – a process that may potentially leave a let empty for a week or two – is a good thing. A long-term tenant also ensures rent is always hitting your bank account every month.
  • You’ll generate a ‘hands off’ investment: long-term tenants are a great option for landlords who like as little involvement in their buy-to-let as possible. There’s less worry about renewing tenancies, finding new renters, check ins, inventories and check out, plus landlords who opt for a fully managed package can really sit back and enjoy the rewards.
  • Tenants will reward you with respect: tenants who feel secure in their rental generally feel more positive about the experience. They will be keen to create a home they can settle in, and anecdotal evidence suggests they look after the property better and forge good relationships with the landlord or property manager.

Cons: 

  • Regaining possession may be harder: currently, landlords can serve a Section 21 ‘no fault’ eviction notice after a fixed term tenancy ends. If the agreement is only for 6 or 12 months, regaining possession doesn’t pose too much of a problem. If the agreement length is two or three years, landlords may have to wait an untenable amount of time. One workaround is to insert a break clause into long-term agreements – something we can organise on behalf of landlords.
  • You’ll have to trust your tenants: when the same people live in your let for 2 or 3 years, you’ll have to trust that they’ll take care of the property and pay the rent on time, especially if the eviction process will favour the tenants more in the near future. Referencing carried out by a letting agent is the best line of defence. It will uncover an applicant’s past renting behaviour and reveal their financial situation, allowing the most trustworthy tenants to be chosen.
  • Rent reviews will need careful planning: it’s a wide-held but unwritten rule that landlords reward long-term tenants with fair rents that aren’t hiked up overnight. If you’re used to raising the rent every time new tenants sign up – perhaps as often as every 6 months – you’ll need to plan a rent rise strategy before you move in long-term tenants. Always consult with a letting agent and consider writing any plans into the tenancy agreement.

Speak to us about setting the right tenancy agreement length for your property, your target tenant and the current lettings market. We will create the perfect tenancy agreement that factors in break clauses, rent rises and notice periods.

4 things you need to know about mortgages & interest rates

House prices have long held the property headlines but making a late charge for column inches of late are interest rates and their effect on mortgages. December 2021 was a busy month for the Bank of England, whose actions and intentions will shape the year ahead for property buyers.

Here are four key take-aways from the most recent announcements:-

1. The interest rate has risen: it has taken the Bank of England three years to start raising the interest rate from its historic low of 0.10%. As of December 2021, the interest rate is 0.25% – still a very low rate and a return to the figure we last saw in March 2020. The mortgage market, however, remains fiercely competitive and lenders continue to offer attractive rates on home loans in a bid to win borrowers’ business.

2. Most borrowers are unaffected: mortgage rate volatility in the past has encouraged more borrowers to take out fixed rate home loans. As a result, UK Finance estimates that 74% of all current mortgages are fixed and enjoy a rate that doesn’t budge, despite what the Bank of England does. Borrowers should, however, pay attention to when their fixed-rate period ends. Many lenders have already increased their standard variable rate – the rate you’re automatically switched to if you take no action at the end of a fixed-rate period – in light of the Bank of England’s decision.

3. Long-term mortgages are on the rise: coming at a time when more property buyers will be looking for long-term repayment security, another 40-year fixed-rate mortgage has launched in the home loan market. While borrowers need to check details – such as any early repayment charges, the set interest rate and the ability to ‘port’ the mortgage to a different property – fixing for four decades allows people to borrow greater sums of money, with a repayment figure that stays the same, even if interest rates rise.

4. Affordability checks may be eased: before the Bank of England decided to raise the interest rate, it had floated the idea of easing mortgage affordability checks. This tests the borrower’s ability to keep paying the mortgage after any fixed-rate period ends and interest rates rise by 3%. It is thought the 3% benchmark may be revised downwards, making it easier for more people to borrow money. It’s a case of ‘watch this space’, with further details expected.

Whether you are taking out your first ever mortgage, need to borrow more to fund your next move, want to purchase a buy-to-let or are thinking of freeing equity by remortgaging, we urge you to take independent financial advice.

First-time buyer? 6 top tips when saving for a deposit

If you’re a first-time buyer, putting down a deposit is part and parcel of purchasing your first home. We all know the bigger the deposit the better but how can buying novices save effectively in 2022?

A little background about deposits
A cash deposit is provided by buyers to show serious commitment to a property purchase. The deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor at exchange and if the buyer withdraws from the purchase, they will forfeit their deposit. When you consider Halifax’s UK average house price in November was £272,992, 10% of that – £27,299 – is a sum most of us can’t afford to lose.

Deposits and mortgages
The cash deposit provided at exchange is the same deposit that is considered when applying for a mortgage – there’s no need to save twice! The bigger the deposit the better as this will improve the LTV (loan-to-value) – the ratio of mortgage to property value. For example, if you’re buying a £200,000 flat with a £20,000 (10%) deposit, you’ll need a 90% LTV mortgage.

Lower LTVs – where the lender loans less and the buyer provides a larger deposit – result in cheaper monthly repayments, the ability to reduce the mortgage term and access to the lowest interest rates, and this is why saving for the biggest deposit possible is advisable.

Existing homeowners don’t need a deposit
If you’re already a homeowner, you won’t need to save up for a deposit when making an onward purchase as the conveyancers involved will use what’s referred to as the exchange deposit. This is where the deposit paid by the buyer at the bottom of the chain moves up and provides the security for the others involved.

How much is enough when buying your first home?
Mortgage lenders offer a number of home loans where buyers need to supply a 5% deposit, although lower rates of interest are generally attached to products where the purchaser can supply a 10%, 15% or even 20% deposit. If you’re at the start of your savings journey, these 6 tips will help get you started:-

  1. Open a specific account
    Use a comparison site to find the account that pays the best interest rate and open an account for the sole purpose of saving for a deposit. Look for accounts that limit how many times you can withdraw money to stop you accessing the account in an emergency.
  2. Save in a deposit-specific ISA
    An alternative to a savings account is the lifetime ISA (LISA) – a tax-free savings or investment account designed specifically for those saving for their first home or for retirement. You must be between 18 and 39 to open a LISA, and for every £4 saved, the Government will add £1, up to a maximum of £1,000 every tax year. Savings can be withdrawn after the first 12 months and used as a deposit on a property worth up to £450,000.
  3. Make saving automatic
    Manually moving money between accounts is a habit you can easily fall out of, so set up a standing order that automatically transfers money on a monthly basis into your dedicated deposit account. You could also ask for all birthday and Christmas presents to be in cash, to be paid directly into your deposit account.
  4. Re-evaluate your renting situation
    It can be hard to save for a deposit while paying rent. You can reduce your outgoings by moving to a smaller property or by taking in a lodger (check with the landlord first). You could even remove the need to pay rent altogether by moving in with family or friends.
  5. Change your eating habits
    A milkshake here, a pizza there – it all adds up, with a twice weekly trip to Starbucks for a caramel frappuccino and a muffin setting you back at least £5 every visit. Home cooked food will always save you money, as will swapping your food shopping habits. Replace Waitrose with a continental budget supermarket and your deposit fund will look a lot healthier.
  6. Shop around & switch
    Save more money by reducing your monthly bills. Use comparison sites, switching incentives and introductory offers to cut what you spend on gas, electricity, broadband and mobile phones. Easy wins include changing your SIM card plan and asking rival broadband suppliers to beat your current deal.

If you need help with working out how much deposit you may need and what loan-to-value you should aim for, we’d be happy to help crunch the numbers with you. Contact us for advice and guidance.

Regulation change regarding carbon monoxide alarms

Tenant wellbeing should be at the top of every landlord’s compliance list and there’s a new gas safety regulation to understand and implement this winter. The change has prompted a number of questions from landlords, which our lettings team have answered:-

Q. How have carbon monoxide alarm rules changed?
A. The Government’s change to gas safety regulations in late 2021 states that all properties in the private rental sector with a fixed gas appliance, such as a gas boiler or fire, now need a carbon monoxide alarm fitted.

Q. Wasn’t that always the case?
A. Previously, the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 made it mandatory for rentals to have a carbon monoxide alarm only where there was a solid fuel appliance, such as a coal fire or wood burning stove.

Q. My buy-to-let doesn’t have a gas appliance – am I affected?
A. If your rental property is all-electric but you’re planning to install a gas appliance, the new regulations have made it compulsory to supply a carbon monoxide alarm at the same time as you fit a new gas appliance. If you rely on solid fuel to heat or power the property, you will still need a carbon monoxide alarm.

Q. If I supply a carbon monoxide alarm, have I fulfilled all of my alarm obligations?
A. Landlords, or their property manager, need to go a little further than merely providing a carbon monoxide alarm. They need to ensure it works at the start of every new tenancy by testing the alarm, and they need to replace a faulty carbon monoxide alarm as soon as a fault is flagged up.

Q. Have the rules changed in regards to smoke alarms?
A. Smoke alarm rules – as set out in the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 and the statutory guidance (Approved Document J) supporting Part J of the Building Regulations – stay the same. Landlords are required to install at least one smoke alarm on every storey of their rental property that is used as living accommodation. Like carbon monoxide alarms, a landlord, or their property manager, needs to test the smoke alarm at the start of every new tenancy and replace a defective alarm as soon as they are alerted to a problem.

Q. Whose job is it to test any alarms?
A. The Government makes it quite clear that a tenant is responsible for testing any carbon monoxide and smoke alarms during the tenancy period, as outlined in the Government’s Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarm Q&A Booklet. Tenants are responsible for changing an alarm’s batteries but it should be the landlord that replaces an alarm unit that’s broken.

Q. Where’s the best place to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms?
A. The best locations for smoke alarms are where air circulates more freely, such as landings, hallways and stairwells. Installing carbon monoxide alarms at head height is best, as long as the alarm is between 1 and 3 metres away from any gas or solid fuel appliance.

Please check with us if you think your buy-to-let property is exempt from any gas safety regulations. We would be happy to advise on the best course of action to keep your let compliant and your tenants safe.

2022: the year of the power buyer

We’ve had power dressing, the power lunch and even power walking but have you heard about the power buyer? It’s a phrase recently used by property portal Rightmove to describe purchasers who are in the strongest position possible.

As we move into 2022, becoming a power buyer will increase in importance. Expert forecasts for the months ahead are in agreement – moving activity will continue, buyers will face competition from rival purchasers and sellers will prefer offers from those who can proceed without drama and delay. Have you got what it takes to be a power buyer?

The value of the offer is important….

As well as reflecting a home’s value, finish and desirability, the asking price will play an instrumental role in the owner’s next move. In almost every case, the seller’s onward purchase and potentially how much money they need to borrow will hinge on the offer they accept. A power buyer will offer as close to the asking price as fairly possible.

….but it’s not everything

As an estate agent, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll encourage sellers to accept the highest offer without investigating the potential buyer’s wider circumstances. One of the first questions we ask anyone hoping to view a property is ‘do you have a property to sell?’. If the answer is yes, we’ll ask if the property is under offer.

These questions relate to time and proceed-ability. A power buyer will already have their home under offer so they’re ready to hit the ground running and won’t risk delaying the transaction. Remember, even if a buyer offers way over the asking price, they may be overlooked if their own property isn’t on the market and this can draw out a transaction for weeks or even months.

It’s behind you

A chain, that is. Power buyers realise that getting caught up in a long chain isn’t what any seller wants, so they make themselves as chain-free as possible. Of course, first-time buyers are naturally chain-free but some power buyers will sell their own property and move into rented accommodation as a temporary measure. This makes them chain-free when they decide to make their next purchase.

Money matters

Some of the most powerful buyers are those who can purchase with cash. By having money in the bank, they sidestep the mortgage application process and remove the risk that they may be turned down for finance. For a seller, a cash buyer represents a quicker, simpler transaction.

The majority of buyers, however, will need a mortgage to purchase a property but there are two simple steps people can take to move them into the power buyer category. The first is to have valid evidence of your deposit and the second is to have a mortgage agreement in principle. Both of these should be in place before a buyer starts looking for a property.

Be authentic

Sellers will sit up and take notice of purchasers who are sincere, open and reliable. That means turning up to pre-booked viewings (preferably on time), putting forward sensible offers and not making outlandish demands. Building the best ‘power buyer’ picture also includes having a solicitor instructed when an offer is made, showing flexibility when it comes to a completion date and taking a genuine interest in the property for sale.

If you would like more advice about how to become a power buyer, contact our team today.

The ‘grey pound’: why older tenants should be a target

Landlords, who is your target tenant? While traditional focus has always been on Generation Z, Millennials and young families, there is growing evidence that those over the age of 55 are increasingly turning to rented property in their later years.

In 2020, AgeUK reported that 750,000 people over 60 live in private rented housing in England, with the number of households inhabited by older renters doubling in the last 15 years.

That figure isn’t static either – an aspect landlords shouldn’t ignore. A report published in the same year revealed that renters of retirement age and those in the upper-middle age category are the fastest growing tenant groups.

Privately rented properties where the tenants were aged between 55 and 64 years old had risen 118% between 2010 and 2020, while rented properties where the tenants were aged over 65 had grown by 93% over the same period.

While you may assume older tenants have been forced into renting due to unfavourable circumstances, the New Generation Rent article published by Property Reporter suggests that comfortable baby boomers are actively choosing tenant status, earning their spending power the nickname of ‘the grey pound’.

With both the Halifax and the Nationwide’s November house price indexes showing that average property values are at record highs, many over 55s are selling now to free capital to fund their retirement, and are choosing to move into rented accommodation in order to watch what the market does next.

Among this age group is hope that house prices will decline, making their next purchase cheaper, while other older renters like the advantage renting gives them in being chain-free when it comes to buying again.

The article also suggests that many mature tenants will stick with private renting for the rest of their lives, whether it’s for the flexibility, the lower maintenance aspect or as part of  an estate planning exercise.

Older tenants often prove to be very reliable tenants, so landlords should go the extra mile to appeal to this group. Over 55s are likely to be asset rich and less likely to default on rental payments, for low or zero arrears. In addition, they’re unlikely to be involved in anti-social behaviour, can deal with running repairs and basic maintenance without troubling the landlord, and will want tenure security for consistent occupancy.

If you’d like to chase the ‘grey pound’ and appeal to more mature tenants, there are a number of considerations that may improve your chances of success:-

  • Opt for access-friendly flats and houses: consider ground floor apartments, those on upper floors that are serviced by a lift and houses without steps to the front door
  •  Choose locations carefully: town centre living where everything is within walking distance is ideal, as is a property close to a bus stop
  • Offer long-term tenancies: foster a sense of security with tenancy agreements of at least 12 months
  • Buy new build: brand new properties will present lower running and maintenance costs for both landlord and tenant
  • Consider added extra: on-site facilities, such as a concierge, video entry or gym
  • Think reduced responsibility: developments where communal gardens are tended to and maintenance is taken care of will rent out quickly

Talk to us today about letting a property you own or purchasing a buy-to-let.

Winter warmers: staying safe and snug this winter

As the temperature drops, we have a tried and tested routine: dig out hats and scarves, revert to warming soups and casseroles, and start speculating about snow days, but what about our homes?

Preparing our properties for inclement weather is more important than ever this year, with many of us mindful about the amount of gas we are using and how low the temperature may drop, thanks to climate change. Now is a good time for a reminder of the basics that may save your boiler breaking down or a pipe bursting.

The age-old debate still rumbles on – keep your heating on a low setting all the time or only turn it on intermittently? Current thinking revolves around insulation. If your home is well insulated, leaving your heating on is a good option as it may not kick in very often. For those in older, poorly insulated properties, using a timer so the heating only comes on when it’s needed is a more cost-effective approach.

There’s no harm in trying both methods if you have a smart energy meter, as you can compare costs. You can reduce energy consumption further by using radiator or underfloor heating thermostats to only heat the rooms you occupy, as well as by avoiding plug-in heaters (the Energy Saving Trust says using an electric heater is more than twice as expensive as using central heating), ensuring you have good insulation and keeping draughts out.

Pipework and central heating go hand-in-hand, and the real danger is when temperatures drop below freezing. If your property is left vacant – whether it’s overnight, for a week or for an extended period – leaving the central heating on and set to a minimum of 13 degrees will ensure any standing water in the pipes doesn’t freeze. Frozen water expands and creates pressure, which can rupture a pipe. Any crack or hole will start leaking water as soon as the temperature rises, which will result in a sudden flood or a slow drip – both highly damaging.

You can also protect pipes from freezing by lagging – the process of wrapping them in insulation material, such as foam sleeves. Pay particular attention to pipes in lofts, garages, basements and those that sit against external walls. It’s also sensible to insulate any outside tap and an older-style hot water cylinder.

If a property is going to be uninhabited for a long spell over winter, it’s wise to play it safe and turn off the water supply at the mains stopcock. Don’t forget, most modern central heating systems still work even if the water supply is turned off.

There is another pipe that’s often overlooked and when it freezes, it’s one of the most common reasons gas engineers are called out. The condensate pipe is what removes steam and condensation from a condensing boiler. If the temperature drops below zero, the condensate pipe can freeze solid and cause the boiler to shut down.

As well as insulating this pipe, you can reduce the chances of it freezing by shortening the amount of pipe that sits outside, making the condensate waste pipe as large as possible with a vertical fall and opting for a boiler with a syphon trap type of water release, rather than a continual drip.

There’s one final leak that property owners should be mindful of during winter and that’s carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas that can emanate from cookers, blocked flues and chimneys. As well as getting your central heating boiler serviced on an annual basis and installing a carbon monoxide detector, it’s wise to get a health check for other gas-fired appliances and book a chimney sweep before the first fire is lit.

If you have any questions about looking after a property during the winter months, feel free to get in contact with our team.

Storage sells: buyers will pay more for space

What sellers assume adds value and what buyers don’t mind paying over the asking price for may not match, if the results of a new survey are to be believed.

While it’s common to think purchasers will stretch their budget for a property with a newly-installed bathroom, an all-singing, all-dancing garden room or perhaps off-street parking, lots of storage is actually one of a home’s most valuable aspects.

When Hammonds Furniture conducted a survey to establish what Brits valued most when buying their next home, 84% said adequate storage space was a must. In fact, those that took part in the survey said they would be willing to pay an average of £12,574 more for a home with lots of storage space to put their possessions.

In some cases, storage was such a priority that buyers would be willing to exceed a property’s asking price for the luxury of space and storage facilities, with 7% of survey participants willing to offer £55,000 more that the advertised price.

The survey results also found the appeal of storage does wane with age. Those below the age of 44 were most likely to increase their offer to secure a new home with good storage, while those over the age of 45 would pay the smallest amount over the asking price to be successful.

Storage is such a broad term that the survey wanted to establish what specific storage options would be most likely to prompt buyers into increasing their offer. A garage was the top storage option, with 42% of buyers willing to pay more for a property with this facility.

A utility room was also well ranked by many purchasers, with 40% saying they’d up their offer if a home had this small but useful room. Another top-performing storage asset was a kitchen with plenty of cupboards and drawers – with 34% saying they’d pay more for this benefit.

While the survey results have highlighted that storage is a winning factor when it comes to encouraging buyers to make attractive offers and even bid over the asking price, good storage can also help sellers during the viewing process.

It’s no secret that people will be put off if your worldly goods are scattered about the house, and a neatly organised home will impress potential buyers and add value too. Even how you utilise what storage you have can impact the interest in and offers on your property – chaotic scenes may suggest there isn’t enough storage for the size of the property.

In most cases it’s not the amount of storage that’s the issue but the way the items are folded, stashed and stowed. When you’re getting your property ready for viewings, it’s worth spot checking your storage beforehand

  • Prioritise small rooms that can feel cluttered: Ideal Home’s storage solutions for small spaces is a brilliant place to start.
  • Reinvent the everyday: if your storage is from the big Swedish warehouse, why not upgrade it with one of House Beautiful’s amazing Ikea hacks?
  • Make sure drawers and doors close fully: first impressions will be improved if the contents are not spilling out.
  • Reorganise chaotic shelves: pay attention to places that potential buyers may investigate, such as the airing cupboard.

If you’d like more advice on getting your property ready to sell on the open market, talk to our team today.

Eco follow-up: Information for Landlords

Unless you’ve been living under a stone for the last month, you’ll know green issues are the number one topic of conversation. While world leaders have debated coal mining and deforestation, there are a number of take-aways from recent weeks for landlords and tenants.

Boilers: in the biggest shake up of how we heat domestic homes in living memory, the Government’s Heat & Building Strategy sets out the end of gas boiler installation. Property investors who develop their own portfolio will be the first to be affected, as the fitting of conventional gas boilers in new properties is to be prohibited from 2025.

All landlords need to take note of the second deadline. From 2035, the sale of conventional gas boilers will be banned, meaning that if a gas boiler breaks or is condemned in a buy-to-let property from 2035, it cannot be replaced with another gas boiler. Existing gas boilers that work, however, won’t have to be removed.

There is financial assistance available to landlords who would like to make a move away from gas fired central heating sooner than the 2035 deadline. The Clean Heat Grant is launching in April 2022 and landlords can apply for up to £5,000 of financial help to install a heat pump system – the Government’s preferred method of heating rental properties moving forwards.

The £450 million fund will cover around 90,000 heat pump installations (which currently cost an average of £10,000) but it will be offered on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. We advise those hoping to take advantage of the grant to apply as soon as the initiative is open for applications.

Funding: a fund worth £4.3 million is going to be shared by local councils in a bid to raise energy standards in the private rental sector.  Some 100,000 extra engagements with landlords will encourage them to comply with current eco regulations and make energy saving improvements – not only to save the environment but also to lower the fuel bills of tenants amid growing fears of fuel poverty. Part of the initiative is to offer landlords free property surveys that will identify where alterations can be made.

Green mortgages: eco-based lending is gaining traction and landlords with the highest EPC ratings now have access to the most favourable interest rate repayments and priority products. It is already reported that the number of ‘green’ buy-to-let mortgages has quadrupled in the past six months, with landlords encouraged to trade energy-saving improvements for advantageous lending conditions.

MEES may get stricter: MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards) for private rented properties may get tougher in the near future. Landlords need to watch the deadline of 2028, when the Government has proposed that all new, renewing and extending tenancies will need to have an EPC rating of C as a minimum. There’s also an ambitious plan for the eco bar to be raised even further, with the Government’s energy white paper aiming to outlaw new, renewing and extending tenancies that fall below a B from 2030.

If you would like to discuss energy efficiency in a rental property, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.