From today (April 1st), where a tenant requests their landlord’s consent to make energy efficiency improvements, the landlord may not unreasonably refuse consent.
This is part of the drive to make the PRS more energy efficient, and is the precursor to regulations dictating an EPC minimum rating of E for new tenancies (2018) and for all tenancies (2020).
This is a quick guide that covers your new obligations and responsibilities.
No Upfront Costs
Before we go through the request process, it is important to note that landlords are not required to contribute funding for any energy efficiency measures requested by the tenants.
It is the sole responsibility of the tenant making the request to organise funding, and tenants should ensure that suitable funding is available before they make a request.
We successfully lobbied the Government to ensure that there are no upfront costs for landlords. A landlord can choose to fund or part-fund efficiency improvements, but this is entirely at their discretion.
Submitting a Request
Before submitting a request, the tenant must first identify what improvements they want to make (from a list of approved measures) as well as the necessary funding for those improvements. This funding may come from:
- The Energy Company Obligation (ECO)
- Central Government or local authority funding, or third party funding such as a grant,
- A Green Deal Finance Plan (or future equivalent as the Green Deal is currently closed)
- Tenant funding where they pay the upfront costs themselves (either fully or in combination with another source of funding above).
A tenants’ request for improvements is not valid without these two things.
Once/if these have been identified, then the request must be made to the landlord in writing with the relevant information.
Responding to a Request
First, you should check that the request is a valid one (as described above). You must respond in writing within one month, either confirming your consent to some/all of the measures requested or providing reasons for your refusal.
You may also offer a counter-proposal to the tenant regarding energy efficiency improvements, but an initial response to the tenants’ request must still be given in writing within a month and it must state that you intend to provide a counter proposal.
You will be under a statutory duty not to “unreasonably refuse consent”, so if the request is valid there are only certain grounds on which consent can be refused:
- Previous request from any tenant in same property within the last six months that has been dealt with
- Relevant HHSRS notice on the property
- Expert advises improvement may damage fabric or structure of the property (for wall insulation request only)
- Tenant refused consent for same improvements within the last six months
- Third party consent is required for the requested improvements but this consent cannot be obtained (e.g. planning permission or consent from mortgage lender)
- The improvements will result in a reduction of the market value of the property of more than 5%
If you have a refused consent for some or all of the tenants’ requested improvements, it is then up to the tenant to consider your response.
If they are not content with your response and believe you have unreasonably refused consent then the tenant can apply for the First-Tier Tribunal to consider the application.
The Tribunal can then decide that the landlord must give consent, or rejects the tenants appeal.