New energy efficiency proposals and withdrawal of minimum EPC plans

For over a decade, the Scottish Government has been planning to introduce a minimum energy efficiency standard for properties in the private rented sector (PRS). Over that time plans and proposed introduction dates have changed several times. Unlike in England, there is currently no minimum energy performance certificate (EPC) requirement for PRS properties in Scotland. The Scottish Government has today published a consultation which sets out new proposals to improve the energy efficiency of all properties in Scotland – both in homes and non-domestic buildings. The new proposals are as follows:

  • by the end of 2028, private landlords will need to meet a new minimum energy efficiency standard (social landlords already have to comply with a minimum energy efficiency standard). See below for details of the proposed standard;
  • owner occupiers will need to meet the same minimum energy efficiency standard by the end of 2033, unless they have ended their use of polluting heating;
  • by some future date yet to be determined, those purchasing a property must comply with the prohibition on polluting heating within a specified amount of time following completion of the sale (likely 2-5 years);
  • by the end of 2045, all building owners will need to have ended their use of polluting heating.

Minimum energy efficiency standard – the government is intending that this be a standard which can be met by installing a straightforward list of measures. This list of measures would be developed to prioritise those that could have most impact for homes with the lowest amount of cost and disruption. Any home owner who had installed these measures – or as many of them as are feasible for the type of home – would be considered to meet the new standard. The consultation proposes that this list could be:

• 270 mm loft insulation;

• cavity wall insulation;

• draught-proofing;

• heating controls;

• 80 mm hot water cylinder insulation;

• Suspended floor insulation

It does not include more expensive or potentially disruptive measures such as solid wall insulation. It is recognised that there will be some properties for which some of the measures on the list are not relevant (such as properties with solid rather than cavity walls). Those properties would only have to comply with the measures on the list which are relevant to their property.

Polluting heating systems – these are systems like gas boilers, oil boilers and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) boilers which burn fossil fuels when we use them. Such systems will need to be replaced, by 2045, with clean heating systems such as heat pumps, heat networks, electric storage heaters and other electric heating technologies which don’t produce any greenhouse gas emissions at the point of use. All local authorities are required to produce a strategy report by the end of 2023 identifying heat network opportunities in their area and it is estimated that heat networks could supply about 17-34% of Scotland’s heat demand, with areas of high housing density being a primary focus for this technology. The prohibition on polluting heating will only apply to the main heating system(s) of a property.

It is intended that previous proposals to require PRS properties to achieve an EPC rating of C at change of tenancy from 2025 with all PRS properties then required to reach the same standard by 2028, will not now be taken forward.

The consultation paper can be read here. The government is inviting views on its proposals which can be submitted online here by 8 March 2024.

As a member of the government’s working group set up in 2013 to develop proposals for regulating energy efficiency in private sector housing, SAL has been representing landlords from the outset. We will respond to these new proposals on behalf of members and will keep members updated with any developments.

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