Millions of landlords face a bill of almost £10bn to make their properties better insulated if the Government forges ahead with plans to make rented accommodation more energy efficient, according to analysis from a leading law firm.

JMW Solicitors estimates that around 2m landlords will be stung by the proposals from the Business Department, which will require all houses for tenants to achieve a rating of at least band C under the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) scheme.

The firm warned that the cost of installing new insulation and other energy saving measures would run to £4,700 per property – or £9.4bn in total.

David Smith, a partner at JMW, said: “The approach taken by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy in their proposal is difficult to understand as it fails to take into consideration the reality of properties in the UK.

For example, I have a small flat in Bath (recently starring in Bridgerton!).

4 inch ashlar construction, no cavity, Grade II* listed so even double glazing is illegal.

It becomes illegal to have flat rentals in central Bath?

49 thoughts on “Idiots”

  1. We’ve rented out our house (modest Victorian terraced) because my wife gets a house with her job and we live about 12 miles away. £4,700 is about a third of the yearly income we get, plus there’s all the hassle of getting the work done. It’s worth bearing in mind that every tiny repair that the tenant needs doing gets given to a favoured contractor who the agent selects for us, and tame builders I know say that this is a well-known scam. So some “insulation specialist” is going to make a lot of money out of us.

    My attitude is that we could use the old house to store the stuff we need for visits to the nearby seaside, plus all my books. And kick out the single mother who lives there.

  2. Indeed, this ‘law’ could be very useful for those seeking immediate eviction of tenants.
    Need to strip the house to insulate, so get out! It’s the law!

    Unless of course, Coco the Clown then rules that the tenants must be relocated to the nearest Hilton at the landlord’s expense.

  3. Just because it is stupid and unworkable does not mean it will not be introduced. It is no more stupid and unworkable than the rest of the government’s Net Zero proposals.

  4. What’s your beef anyway, Tim? With your beloved Carbon Tax, the cost should amount to the same over the life of the system. Or don’t you envisage being a victim of it yourself?

  5. No, the argument in favour of the carbon tax is that it is “more efficient”. Less pain for the same gain.

  6. The drop in the amount of housing available will certainly be entertaining. Presumably the scream will be to confiscate it all at the landlord’s expense.

  7. Incidentally, in case anyone’s wondering, I was presuming that’s the emojie for a Liberal Democrat poof. He’s not likely to have any friends, is he?

  8. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    “every tiny repair that the tenant needs doing gets given to a favoured contractor who the agent selects for us, and tame builders I know say that this is a well-known scam”

    In North Korea (Germany Province) the tenant has to pay for any individual repair needed up to a value of €100 (capped at some number of such repairs per year). So the scam is the other way around – tenant finds a favoured contractor to charge €101.

  9. As with the recently-introduced rules on polluting cars in London, all this means is that some properties will change hands. Landlords will sell anything which is too expensive to bring up to scratch; and owner-occupiers will buy them. There will be considerable disruption for tenants, of course; but somehow this is painted as hurting landlords more.

  10. Why would there be a drop in the amount of housing available, Boganboy? It would be sold to someone who wants to live in it. That’s going to be the outcome of this. A lot of owners being forced out of BTL. Should see a sharp decline in property prices as they all try & unload at once. Very sharp, because a drop in house price values will spark off a collapse in house price values. All sellers, no buyers for a while. There will be a lot more “affordable” housing on the market, in due course.

  11. “No, the argument in favour of the carbon tax is that it is “more efficient”. Less pain for the same gain.”
    In your dreams, Tim. Politicians, remember? The “Carbon Tax” would be whatever they reckon they can squeeze out of the punter. So if they think this load of bollocks can be paid for, that’s what the carbon tax will be.
    You say yourself, fuel duty in the UK is far higher than a “Pigou Tax” on vehicle carbon emissions. What makes you think a general “Carbon Tax” would be any different?

  12. Whoops BiS. I just assumed it’d be illegal to sell sub-standard housing, so they’d have to demolish it. Still I suppose that’s too stupid even for the government.

  13. Effective insulation on the outside is liable to be a fire risk and insulation on the inside turns rooms that are already a bit small into cupboards which are too small for furniture.

  14. @Sam Vara – why not “manage” the rental yourself or is that not an option where you are. In London you can pay the agent a fee for collecting the rent and finding a tenant which is, say x% pcm or include “managing” the rental (so they do all the getting people out to fix the boiler) for x+% per month. It’s a good way around the cosy agent/contractor relationship though you have to do the work.

  15. @Boganboy
    At the point where Tim’s flat would be up for sale the property market would be in free fall & Boris Johnson swinging in a noose tied to a tree in Victoria Tower Gardens. The War On Climate Change postponed due to crowd trouble. What insulation requirements?

  16. @Andy F
    “insulation on the inside turns rooms that are already a bit small into cupboards which are too small for furniture.”
    It’s not as bad as that. You’d be losing about 3-4 inches on one wall of most rooms. Worse, of course, where there are 2 outside walls. But the way most people’s rooms are laid out, it wouldn’t be critical. Although bathroom’s/toilets might be undoable. Many of them were built to the dimensions of what’s in them. It’s the cost. Not the insulation itself. Isn’t that expensive. But skirtings have to be moved or replaced. A lot of supplementary work to avoid it looking like a great big bodge. A complete redec in every room in the house. Fitted furniture would have to be de-installed, possibly modified, re-installed. You could be looking at 25 grand for that lot.

  17. “A lot of supplementary work to avoid it looking like a great big bodge”
    Imagine trying to insulate the inside of a thupenny-bit bay window didn’t make it look like the interior of a WW2 gun emplacement. Or the outside, for that matter.

  18. I think Boganboy has it right: they are already talking about making it illegal to sell ‘sub-standard’ housing.
    So you won’t be able to rent it, you won’t be able to sell it, so the council will then steal it as not being used when there’s a ‘housing crisis’.

    Expect fires. Lots of them.

  19. Meissen Bison,

    Yes, we looked into it, and unless you get a really tame all-purpose handyman prepared to turn out for you at silly o’clock in the morning, it’s all down to you while the tenant shouts abuse and the water splashes off the fuse-box. Too stressful, and at least a nuisance if you have an uppity tenant. We’re working on getting a tame plumber who we will insist the agent contacts, as a sort of compromise.

  20. the argument in favour of the carbon tax is that it is “more efficient”

    More efficient in that there are fewer pockets to share the dibs with.

  21. Bloke in North Dorset

    “ The drop in the amount of housing available will certainly be entertaining. Presumably the scream will be to confiscate it all at the landlord’s expense.”

    Only after the inevitable rent rises and the inevitable rent caps.

  22. Tim,
    Making it illegal for *a private landlord* to let a flat in central Bath would count as a victory for most “green” activists who are anti-capitalist (usually because they do not realise that they are totally dependent upon the surplus wealth created by capitalism to fund their lifestyles).
    So “idiots” may not be quite correct: perhaps “malevolents”?

  23. 2 Million Landlords. 20 for every UK Govt costumed thug. Join together and send Bogus J a note telling him to fuck off as you wont be obeying his Green bullshit. It would be better if you could ambush and beat the fat bastard and his thugs. They wont be expecting it and telling the state to fuck off and making it stick would be a marvellous spectacle for everyday folk.

    Likewise nasty little Sad Dick Karn and his car thieving taxes. He has 15 bodyguards. Make every one of the bastards sorry they ever took the job and stop paying to drive in London.

  24. I bought my house (about 150 years old in the sticks) for a song, on account of it being sodden with damp, falling to bits and covered in black mould, even in the attic. I solved the problems by ripping out all the insulation, all the damp proofing and all the draught excluders. I then re-opened the fireplaces and installed a woodburner. I now have a dry, warm and ventilated home.

    But thanks to Net Stupid, I’ve got the threat hanging over me of at some point being forced to insulate it and heat-pump it, and turn it back into a damp, cold, mouldy, airtight wreck.

    I hate the state.

  25. I’m impressed that they could get two significant figures on the cost estimate for unknown housing, with unknown current state , and unknown contractors applying unknown refurbishments. I suppose stopping at two sig-figs is probably an improvement on some pencil-neck’s Excel sheet.

  26. We have a number of properties. We’ve been limited in what we can buy for letting out due to the eco rating and the cost of bring it up to scratch. We’ve even looked into getting a grant to do the work – but it’s limited to only those landlords who have tenants on benefits. But we can’t put a tenant in because the eco rating is too low. Catch 22.

  27. @bis “Imagine trying to insulate the inside of a thupenny-bit bay window didn’t make it look like the interior of a WW2 gun emplacement. Or the outside, for that matter.”

    the local council had a scheme running for external insulation and called on all the houses on my street. It seemed a good deal and everything went ahead , until it came too fitting – and i was told “we can’t fit external cladding to bay windows!” Every house in the road (and most of the surrounding streets ) have bay windows. Complete waste of time by the council.

  28. why worry about insulation when the climate is burning up but not hot enough to need air conditioning?

  29. It becomes illegal to have flat rentals in central Bath?

    Basically. Or else there will be an expensive scheme to issue deviation permits. So expect your flat to go away or become more expensive to rent.

    These people don’t care. Its not *their* problem, after all. I mean, Canada just outlawed the raising of mink in capitivity because – even though there is no evidence it is happening, mink *could* harbor the Delta variant and so they must all close down.

  30. “Carbon tax” assumes that “Carbon” is a problem because “climate change” is caused by human activity which generates “carbon”. All arguments as to the efficacy or otherwise of using tax to try to change people’s behaviour are irrelevant.

    Never mind China or India, the bowel shattering hypocrisy of the smug hypocrites who are actually enforcing this green insanity tells you all you need to know.

    This is not the run of the mill hypocrisy which the political class and its wannabes have indulged in since Sargon was a lad. We only have twelve years to save the very planet we live on!

  31. This has been mooted since 2012/13, so is known about. I’ve been refusing bodge up renos that haven’t done the fabric well for about 5 years now. It seems reasonable for tenants to have high quality homes. Spenging a year’s rent on improvment every 15-20 years also seems reasonable.

    On your flat, my impression is that they do allow for example secondary glazing, and have for quite a long time. How much has the value increased since 2007, for example? I’d say take a bit of that gain and spend it on bringing the place up to scratch at a current ~2% mortgage rate. Watch your timing.

    The one your readers will be crosser about is that it will apply to Owner Occupied before long, which is also coming down the track. Already in place in Scotland (I think).

    But then owner occupiers get a tax bung of £35bn a year in the form of CGT relief, which makes their gains into free money. So by and large they can afford it.

  32. It sounds as if whoever insulated it should have ventilated it

    Huh?
    The alleged problem is that houses are too leaky so the heat goes out.
    What they’re trying to force people to do, is insulate the homes.
    This causes problems with damp and mold. Also resulting in health issues.
    And the solution to this is to ventilate? To make the homes leaky again?

    Are we living in Clownworld?

    Why can’t they just f*ck off and leave us alone?
    I’m beginning to think the only way to solve the problem is to ban anyone from working for the civil service or politics, who wants to work in those areas. Anyone who seeks political power is unsuitable to have it.

  33. It’s called MVHR, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.
    It costs about £6,000.
    After you’ve totally sealed the house.
    And found a proper fitter, not a cowboy.

  34. “It’s called MVHR, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.”

    Let me guess….”mechanical”…it uses an electric fan?

    So burn more electricity to do what opening the window does for free.
    Oh, and when the power’s out, as it will be soon and often, you suffocate or….open the window!
    Brilliant. Only a Green expert could come up with this.

  35. Oh, I don’t think a heat pump could compete with an open window.

    And once it’s all finished and paid for, there’s cabin fever to think about.

  36. @KevinS

    You don’t get taxed on the unearned gain when you sell it !

    @Chernyy

    The alleged specific problem from Paul was that the house was insulated, damp and full of black mould.

    That is usually caused by inadequate ventilation, combined with excessive moisture either coming into the house (leaks / penetrating damp) or excess humidity being created inside (eg washing on rads) not being able to get out.

    @Tim the Coder

    The amount of energy used to drive mechanical ventilation is very small compared to the benefits.

  37. The house had survived approx. 140 years of water vapour thanks to draughts and solid fuel heating. A return to that system is all it needed.

    Never mind the insane cost of installing and running MVHR, as well as thus making myself reliant on the electricity network, what about the issue of trying to insert ducts through 18” of ancient rough brickwork and mortar?

    I don’t know why I’m even responding to this. My system works. The house is warm and dry. It costs hardly anything to run. I’m reliant on no one. It’s exactly what was going through the minds of the people who built the house in the first place, at that happy time when “a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman”.

  38. @Paul

    Great stuff if you have the right amount of wood available (1-2 tonnes / year?) to you and no one close who is sensitive to the smoke.

  39. I get it all from the river a mile away. There’s a fresh supply left behind each time it overflows, and I just carry a branch home on my shoulder every time I walk the dog. I’ve had woodburners for 30 years now, and never bought fuel for it once.

    Also, I cut it up, split it and season it for two years minimum, so there’s no smoke. I’m mean. After doing the work to produce the fuel, I’m not letting any of it disappear up the chimney unburnt as smoke!

  40. Petition calling for a referendum on net zero by 2050.

    How does that parse exactly? The government might grant the petition by implementing all the associated measures over the next 18 years, and then offering a referendum on them at the end of 2049.

  41. I looked at this legislation last year. There is a blanket exemption for listed properties where the EPC says that ‘C’ cannot be reached with permitted modifications. There is also a derogation for some number (5?) of years if the EPC says that ‘C’ cannot be reached within a given budget (again, don’t recall the exact details because they didn’t affect me). The property that I was concerned about is a 2-bed Victorian terrace with solid walls. An A-rated boiler, A-rated double glazing, LED lighting and a butt-ton of loft insulation got it up to a ‘C’. Replaced the boiler about 5 years ago when it worked out cheaper than carrying on repairing the old one, and the windows a couple of years ago because several were blown so needed doing anyway, LED lights have paid for themselves already in not having to be replaced, so the additional cost of doing this over and above what needed doing anyway (loft insulation, slightly more expensive boiler and windows) was about a grand over five years. Now, I saw the writing on the wall about this some time ago, so when something needed changing I “upgraded” to the most efficient available. It would be much better if the government had given decent notice of these changes so that the hard of thinking could have done likewise.

    What’s far worse is the new electrical safety requirements which got dropped on us with no warning, and “oh the fusebox design that was mandated by the regulations when you were last re-wired 7(?) years ago is no longer in code, you need one that’s almost identical to the one that got thrown out then because it didn’t meet the then-current standards. That’ll be £500.”

  42. It’s another step to make rental so expensive Gov’t can step in and apply rent controls and then nationalise the properties

    We’ve already had, among others, third bedroom in 3 bed property too small to legally rent (Cameron era)

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