This regulation worries me

Landlords who rent out properties built in the Victorian era and early part of the twentieth century may be forced to make upgrades to make them more energy efficient, under government proposals.

Ministers are consulting on a change that would mean owners of properties which fall under the lowest energy efficiency categories would be forced to make upgrades from 2018.

All eligible properties will have to be improved to a minimum energy efficiency standard before being let to tenants within four years, except where certain exemptions apply. The homes hit are those which have the lowest F or G rating in the Energy Performance Certificate efficiency scale.

Because I own a flat in a Georgian building which would be absolutely impossible to bring up to such a standard. For example, it would be illegal to install double glazing…..,.

44 thoughts on “This regulation worries me”

  1. Sorry Tim, not a lot of sympathy for you on this one. This is part of the absurd CO2 obsession, on which I think you are a believer? Anyhow you can probably meet the minimum standards by putting in a condensing gas boiler…(possibly)

  2. Well, you’ll just have to watch the value plummet until it’s worth doing nothing but knocking down your fine Georgian building. Same as has happened to milllions of other homeowners under various harebrained housing schemes since the “slum clearances” started.

  3. Is it is California where a bloke was threatened with legal action for watering his lawn, but also prosecuted for having brown grass?

  4. I lived in a cold Grade II listed Georgian house. True, you can’t rip out the windows to fit double glazing, but you can fit secondary double glazing (since it doesn’t change the original structure and can be removed).

    Mind you, without wall cavities, cavity insulation is a bit of a problem.

  5. I support this as an action against landlords.

    Properties that have paid their value 100s of times over.

    Landlords should do more than keep the basic structure safe and slap a bit of paint about for their £1000 a month rent.

    Yes I am a totalatarian ass.

  6. It worries me because it should be none of the government’s effing business what the energy efficiency of a building should be. The tenant / landlord arrangement is a contract between two (or more) adults. If the tenant doesn’t like high heating bills due to low heating efficiency then they are not forced to rent the property. If nobody wants to rent a property, the landlord has a clear commercial incentive to improve it.

    I also don’t believe government should be listing private property. If the community values a property then it should buy it.

  7. This regulation would worry me because it’s none of the government’s business and government seems completely to have lost sight of the idea that there is anything that shouldn’t qualify for intervention.

    “Government isn’t there to stick their nose in the bedroom as long as people are not doing things which are illegal” that political luminary and nose of government, Nick Clegg (>30 bedpost notches), said this week on the basis that there is apparently no connection between things becoming illegal and government sticking its nose in.

  8. Think you have unnecessary palpitations.

    The standard is incredibly low, there’s plenty you can do, and listed buildings are iirc exempt.

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    As the profitability of letting all those decrepit heaps of Victoriana & their high market values is a product of State interference in the housing market through restrictive planning & artificially low interest rates, nice to see the circle of absurdity completed.

  10. bloke (not) in spain

    ~“Properties that have paid their value 100s of times over.”

    Eh? ~

    Well, to be more accurate, building cost.
    No doubt IanB will agree with me on this, the miserly building expense devoted to the late Vic/early Ed house building boom resulted in some of the nastiest, poorly constructed crap ever to grace British cities.No normal domestic residence is ever constructed with a life expectancy out past around 40 years, but with this stuff the metric was the residual tackiness in the paint on the front door & the speed with which the builder could scarper.
    The cost of energy inefficiency, like the cost of repairs is something to be balanced against the market value of the building. Thanks to this being artificially slanted, there isn’t the economic justification for rightfully pulling them all down & building something decent.

  11. @B(n)is,


    A lot of that Vic/Ed “poorly constructed crap” will still be standing after stuff built last year is knocked down. Pretty sure the central Manchester Vic terrace I owned some time ago will outlive me. &c.

  12. bloke (not) in spain

    No doubt it will. Despite the exhaustive regulation imposed on last year’s construction to ensure it survives the fading of the last stars & the contraction of the universe to a final singularity.
    We should mourn the shortsightedness of the British in not investing sufficiently in pre-war German aviation & their resultant lack of sufficiently large & effective bombers.

  13. “Well, to be more accurate, building cost”

    Still not sure what this is supposed to be getting at. It sounds like some analogue of the labour theory of value to me.

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    If that was for a V of L approaching zero, possibly.
    But it’s simply a real world observation. The effort put into something is often reflected in the result. In which case, not a lot & load of rubbish.

  15. @Bnis,

    What on earth do you have against redbrick semis and terraces? I know they are in and out of fashion – I saw mine go from slum in dodgy area to hipsterbait in 5 years and made a packet as a result. I really couldn’t fault the quality of construction or ease of maintenance – which is basically replace the windows every 50 years and roof every 100. A bit bigger might have been nice but you can’t have everything.

  16. I renovated a Georgian house once. Even my Bodge the Builder was better than the original cowboys.

    Here’s a couple of practical tips: never buy anything with a bay window, don’t be suckered into cavity wall insulation.

  17. BniS
    What the fuck are you on?

    “We should mourn the shortsightedness of the British in not investing sufficiently in pre-war German aviation & their resultant lack of sufficiently large & effective bombers.”

    The UK didn’t need bombers (offensive) because the UK was not planning on invading Europe. The UK did need interceptors (defensive) because Germany was a threat.

    The UK didn’t need to “invest (..) in pre-war German aviation” because Rolls-Royce, Supermarine, Hawker, de-Havilland, Bristol, AVRO (for example, and others) were perfectly capable of meeting and matching the challenge.

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    You need to ask IanB or anyone else who’s ever worked with them. They’re mostly held together by the coats of emulsion paint applied over the woodchip. And Pollyfilla. One realises this when stripping off the paper causes the wall to disintegrate. The substandard bricks were usually laid on beds of sand reinforced by bricklayer’s spit. The timber used was rejected by the match industry.

  19. “If that was for a V of L approaching zero, possibly.
    But it’s simply a real world observation. The effort put into something is often reflected in the result. In which case, not a lot & load of rubbish.”

    Oh, absolutely. It’s the original comment by “fake” above that I didn’t understand. It seemed to be implying that landlords should somehow be penalised in a way linked to the original build costs.

    And the Edwardian villa I live in is absurdly well built. Then again, I know that the original builder went busy shortly after completing the houses. The two may be related.

  20. “Government isn’t there to stick their nose in the bedroom as long as people are not doing things which are illegal”

    Ironically, the bedroom is probably the only room left in the house the Illiberal nonDemocrats don’t want the Government crawling all over.

  21. Victorian spec builders really were cowboys. The (undeserved) good reputation older buildings have, is based on the fact that labour intensive stuff like pretty wood and plaster detailing could be had cheaply, because even skilled labour was dirt cheap. On the other hand, large section timber as used for structural purposes was expensive, as were properly fired clay bricks, so our ancestors used cheaper undersized timbers and soft bricks (fired sometimes on the spot). Its not like they didnt know what they were doing either, the relatively few genuinely well built properties shows that.

  22. bloke (not) in spain

    “It seemed to be implying that landlords should somehow be penalised in a way linked to the original build costs. ”

    Oh, by extension, i think they should be. I always find it amusing, the denigration of slum landlords of the Rackman era. Voiced by “buy-to-let” cowboys* profiting from exactly the same properties.

    *”Cowboys” meaning anyone who regards “buy-to-let” as an “investment”. Yes. I do know where that finger points.

  23. I’m surprised no-one here has yet pointed out that you can in fact buy special double-glazing panels for Georgian windows, and they’re approved even for use in listed buildings.

  24. Victorian spec builders really were cowboys.
    No, they were businessmen. As were the earlier Georgian builders who – quite rationally – built houses to stay up for the length of the lease (usually 90 years).
    I have a flat in a Victorian mansion block built in 1890. It’s as solid as a rock. Got hammered in the Blitz, but lost only windows and its ornamental roof – just as well since the SoE was based there.
    I recently replaced the very fancy windows with double glazed ones designed to (almost) exactly match the originals. Not quite up to the standard Tim might need for a listed building, but getting close.
    I conclude that the nation would be run much better if we allowed only builders to become politicians.

  25. bloke (not) in spain

    Something else amusing.
    No doubt Tim’s Georgian terrace property would have been & probably still is, equipped with the wooden internal shutters which were a feature of the period. If these are used in conjunction with the heavy curtaining of the period, they combine to provide a “u-value” in excess of current requirements. Providing, of course, the property is being used for the purpose it was designed. A single dwelling house.

    Of course. If you choose to subdivide the place into slum flats….

  26. BNIS

    I can heartily concur. I wanted to vacate my lovely Edwardian end of terrace when the builders showed me what the internal kitchen wall was made of.

    In short, bricks made from clinker, mortared together with old newspapers, bits of twig and carpenter’s off-cuts.

    The dividing wall in the loft looks like it was built by a blind mental defective, with palsy.

  27. @bnis

    That’s optimistic.

    U value of a trad window is about 4.5. Shutters and curtains may get you to about half that, with secondary glazing to about 2.

    But the EPC will not recognise shutters and curtains :-; . Structural elements only.

    Modern regs require just over 1.:Decent modern glazing will be about 0.7 for the whole window.

    Any 2018 Timmy will have to do it anyway because the market will punish his rent level if he didn’t, just as happens now with no central heating.

  28. It gives me some little satisfaction that my 1870s stone Victorian tenement flat in a central Edinburgh conservation area is blazing out heat from its wooden windows and thus contributing to global warming because I am not allowed to replace them with modern. Would I want the whole, vast area of these flats knocked down for modern equivalents? No, I would advocate decapitation for anyone who tried.

    It’s very well built too. Solid as a rock in and outside.

  29. @ b(n)is
    How many Edwardian houses have you ever looked at, let alone lived in? I grew up (mostly) in a late Victorian house and my grandmother lived in an Edwardian house. They were far better houses than any I have lived in since.
    Your comment about crap *could* be applied to a lot of *mid-Victorian* terraces built in a rush to house workers flocking to a town to work in a new factory but *not* to most of the speculative housing built in late Victorian and Edwardian times for buy-to-let landlords. The Edwardian era was an interval of peace and prosperity so the quality of housing and most thgings improved.
    I used to have a vested interest because my great-grandfather was a dozen years older than his wife so, as a prudent individual thinking “safe as houses”, he invested in some of these speculatively-built houses. In the 1880s and 1890s they were designed to be artisans’ dwellings, in the 1980s one ex-tenant who had bought his leasehold from my grandmother sold it to a pair of barristers (I know because I was asked to read the paperwork when it came to selling the freehold under two flats).
    Some houses (but not these) ended up as crap because Lloyd George froze rents during WWI *and no-one unfroze them for 40 years* so rents eventually failed to cover maintenance costs and some landlords stopped maintaining them when they ran out of money. Ours didn’t because three generations subsidised them from other income and/or sold off some houses for tht purpose and/or to generate income to live on, or to pay Estate Duty, until my mother (the only grandchild of the original investor) was talked into selling the remainder to an estate agent – partly because she assumed that I, being the nearest sibling, should spend far more on them that I got in from rent (on my salary at the time I could have afforded it, so?).
    The big council estate a couple of hundred yards from my childhood home was built in the 1930s – vast chunks have been torn down as unfit to be lived in; most of the Wilson governments 1960s tower blocks have been knocked down. When the speculative-build houses in which my great-grandfather invested were a similar age, tenants were appealing to my grandmother to let one of their relatives take up any house or flat that fell vacant. Compare and contrast. In all my memory neither she nor my mother ever advertised for a tenant.
    “No normal domestic residence is ever constructed with a life expectancy out past around 40 years,” Don’t talk rot. For the last few thousand years, domestic residences have been built to oultlive the owner. Who wants their home to startt falling down around their ears when they get to sixty?

  30. @ Tim
    It’s just as well that I have no intention of letting out my house which is in a conservation area so I can’t install double-glazing, has no cavities in its walls, so I can’t install cavity-wall insulation, has one loft with no access except for goldcrest wrens and pipistrelle bats (neither of whom we see around here), one with moderate insulation where British Gas would not install additional insulation unless I personally put on a mask and stripped out lots of things, and one where they couldn’t possibly allow one of their employees to climb into it to add to the insulation that someone else had done, by climbing through into it, in the 1990s.

  31. It might help if people mentioned the part of the country they are talking about. The two Victorian properties I’ve owned have been good, and very good: the Georgian that my wife owned was excellent. All three were stone, mind, being in Edinburgh and East Lothian.

    We have no great desire to lavish money on our present house: whoever buys it from us may well demolish it; if not they’re likely to expand and modify it so much that any improvements of ours will end up discarded. I say this based on what is happening to other houses nearby. But if the taxpayer would like to pay for us to have a more energy-efficient back door, that would be just fine.

  32. Our house was built on the cheap. You can see it in the lack of right angles everywhere. It’s still here 150 years later. Although I did have to have the original slates replaced 10 years ago.

    Nothing to do with the slates of course. Just the nails.

  33. @dearieme
    I grew up mostly in the North-East of England, my maternal great-grandfather mostly lived in and the houses he owned were north London
    I had three years on the edge of Glasgow
    And fatty Murphy tries to suggest that I don’t understand the working class

  34. bloke (not) in spain

    Yeah, I know. Modern regs only concern structure. But back in the days of building Georgian terraces it was accepted people’d have curtains the weight of horseblankets & the whole lot would be shuttered & drawn my the maids at sunset.
    As built & lived in the places were reasonably heat efficient. Dunno what u-value you’d apply to the maid, though.
    Of course, if one of the bedroom’s now a kitchen & you like leaving the curtains open so passers by can admire your decor….not going to work now, is it?

    Victorian/Edwardian houses.
    Owned a few. Totally rebuilt couple dozen. Worked with a hundred or more. I’ve learnt more about houses built around the turn of the C20th than is good for anyone’s health. Sweet memories of a now so desirable Hampstead terrace where the bottom brick courses had been laid straight on the ground. They hadn’t even bothered to cut the grass. There were fossilised leaves, under them.

    We’ve had this conversation before.
    It’s not how long buildings last. It’s intent. Few people in their 20s have houses built for when they’re in their 60s. Generally they’re well over half way there before they have the money to.
    In any case, It’s not necessarily the commissioner. It’s the builder that counts. HE’s not going to be around in 40 years, is he? The more you put into building a house the longer it will last. But it doesn’t make you very competitive at the tendering stage.
    Past that, any building can last for any length of time. Depends on how much effort is put into staving off collapse. Whether it’s economic. Importantly, whether the owner understands economics. Few do.

  35. @BnIS, I must have had a particularly good one. They were built by an aristo mill owner (we still had a title rent charge) which might have meant to a better than average quality. The only problem, structurally, was that the previous owner had knocked through the downstairs and put in an RSJ that wasn’t big enough. That was easy enough (if expensive) to solve once we found the problem. The surveyor was pleased they’d actually put one in – said he had plenty of cases of people going to bed upstairs and waking up downstairs.

    I stripped the century-old “match reject” boards myself – lovely result but back-breaking work. The plaster did come off with the three layers of wallpaper, in some places with obvious water damage back to the lath, but what do you expect with 100 year-old plaster, however good or crap it is to start with? Of the ancient roof timbers, one was failing.

    Admit I am biased, I did love my Victorian house.

  36. OK, so I accept many owners of Victorian / Edwardian houses think they are great. But in my day job, I get to look very closely at at least 200+ houses per year, and get to see about 10% of those laid bare during renovations, and frankly, NONE come close to meeting modern standards in almost any aspect you might care to mention, except layout and built-in decoration.

    Houses of that period, expensive or cheap, get it wrong on so many levels. Many people say ‘they dont build house like they used to’ I say, thank God for that. The worst of it is, they knew what they were doing.

  37. It’s not impossible to improve old listed buildings, even if you can’t stick solar panels on the roof.

    High efficiency boiler, good controls, very efficient LED lighting, internal secondary glazing etc.

  38. @ b(n)is
    If houses weren’t built to last as much as forty years, why was the standard method of purchase a 99-year lease?

  39. Victorian/Edwardian properties might not be built to modern standards but they have stood the test of time.
    Unlike the 60’s municipal buildings which are rapidly being taken down.
    Perhaps it is evidence against government involvement in the house building market?

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