The Blog

Welcome to this week’s Newsround bringing you all the latest news and topics that have been trending this week.

First off  we look at the impending new EPC requirements and is the cost just too great for landlords?

Are new EPC requirements too expensive?

New analysis carried out by Paragon Bank has found that most landlords are willing to pay up to £3000 to upgrade their property to meet the new EPC requirements, however the average cost to upgrade is looking more like £10,560 per property which exceeds the government’s cap of £10,000.

Landlords say they will increase rent or dip into savings to fund works. Current properties that are EPC rating of D are now looking less appealing to buy.

Richard Rowntree, the bank’s mortgage managing director, says:-

It is encouraging to see that landlords anticipate that future portfolio expansion will target properties rated EPC C or above, bringing more energy efficient properties into the PRS. Paragon is one of a number of lenders to offer favourable rates that provide a financial incentive to this. Of course, this is only part of the issue as data shows that a large proportion of current PRS stock is below the standard required by the proposed new regulations.

He goes on to say

The apparent disparity in what it is likely to cost to meet these standards and what landlords are willing to spend helps to illustrate the financial challenge the new regulations would pose to buy-to-let investors. There remains a lot of uncertainty around the proposals, so the sector needs some clear guidance from the Government. With this, my hope is that landlords will have a better understanding of how the new regulations would impact them and the resulting financial support they would require.

Read more here.

Have your say on the Renters Reform White Paper

The Levelling Up, Housing and communities select committee is launching a probe into the The Renters Reform White Paper. They have raised a list of questions that feel need answers to, you can submit here. Some of the questions they have raised ask if the PRS really needs its own ombudsman and what roll it should play.

Will the Government’s White Paper proposals result in a fairer private rented sector (PRS)? You can read the full article and more of the questions they have raised here.

There is further evidence that the Renters Reform Bill could seriously damage the student let sector.

Banning fixed term tenancies will mean landlords can no longer guarantee spaces to new students at the start of each academic year. This has always been controlled by fixed term tenancies. This oversight could cause landlords to stop renting to students.

Ben Beadle, chief executive of the NRLA also has concerns and says

It just doesn’t work for landlords and it doesn’t work for renters because you are going to have no certainty that property will be available when people need it. At the moments students start looking in January or February, you secure it, you sign up, you know you are moving in July, August or September, and that property is ready for you.

This is going to cause significant problems and I’m not sure what issues it’s trying to solve. I get with the wider white paper it is trying to resolve insecurity. I understand the logic for it. But the reality is that students don’t need the security – the student market is incredibly cyclical from summer to summer.

The full article can be read here.

NRLA are also carrying out a consultation and are asking all landlords to complete their survey regarding the White Paper. Click here to complete their survey.  Ben Beadle states that this is the biggest set of changes to hit the PRS in over 30 years and it has to be right; he encourages landlords to have their say.  Read what more he says here.

Rental Reform possible redress?

An article in LandlordTODAY gives some hope that either of the new Prime Ministers could be good for landlords and redress the current imbalance in favour of tenants in the Rental Reform White Paper. Neil Cobbold of PayProp UK says

This delay gives the industry more time to assist the government to get the balance right on rental reform to ensure that the legislation takes the concerns of agents, landlords and tenants into account. It’s clear that whatever the outcome of the Conservative leadership election, rental reform is still on the horizon … now is an ideal time for all in the private rental sector to help contribute to the debate around rental reform to ensure voices from all sides are heard.

He also feels that now is the time to improve Section 8 evictions as we see the end to Section 21.

In hand with that, he sees an opportunity for the government to embrace new technologies where cases of rent arrears come to court. They could accredit verifiable records of payments and arrears from banks and third-party platforms.

Data Providers could gain accreditation from the government which would help all parties keep track of missed payments and make the court system quicker and easier to assess payments and arrears.

Is this the way we need to go?

Future proof homes for hotter weather

Houses need to be more future proof so they can withstand hotter weather following our record high of 40C temperatures. Should we follow the Mediterranean and paint our houses white to reflect heat and use shutters? Growing more trees for shade and learning how to live with hotter temperatures.

James Knight of design and engineering consultancy Arcadis, told The Guardian

The housing industry is quite traditional and old-fashioned in adapting and there are a lot of challenges that we need to deal with around zero-carbon and future-proofing. In the Mediterranean people leave their homes shuttered all day, with the windows open behind. How many of us leave the curtains closed on south and west-facing windows when we go to work on a sunny day?

Read what other leading climate change activists have to say about adapting our thinking and the way we live .

Blacklists are not working

The rogue landlord blacklist appears to only have 56 property agents and landlords on it since launching in 2018 and what’s more landlords that have received banning orders have not been prevented from re-letting their properties.

Councils suffering from under resourcing and financial restrictions seem unable to manage a bad landlord list once they have been caught. Read more here.

Does one size fit all?

The debate goes on about how many privately rented homes will not reach the energy efficiency target set by the government of a minimum EPC rating of C. Letting agents have now come out in support of landlords in this respect.

Timothy Douglas, head of policy and campaigns for Propertymark goes on to say

We knew it would be a huge challenge for the PRS to achieve the proposed 2028 target because the owners of rental properties will not directly benefit from lower energy bills, so where is their incentive? The data in the English Housing Survey shows just how far there is to go.

Propertymark supports moves to improve the energy efficiency of property types and will continue to lobby for a national retrofit strategy with realistic, fair and achievable targets alongside dedicated, long-term grants that consider each property’s individual characteristics.

Propertymark goes one step further and wants the government to move away from a ‘one size fits all’ policy asking for proposals that take into consideration a property’s age, condition, and size rather than its tenure. Is this the way it should go? Read more here.


Newsround will be back next week.

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