Is there life after the death of Green Deal?

Guest columnist Karim Goudiaby, CEO of flatshare and houseshare website Easyroommate, paints a bleak picture for the viability of energy efficiency targets in the private rented sector following the summer scrappage of Green Deal

Launched in 2013, the Green Deal was to encourage landlords, tenants and homeowners to implement energy efficiency measures, and claim back up to £7,600 for these improvements.

New government legislation suggests that by 2018 all UK properties should at least have an EPC rating E. But, scrapping the Green Deal stands to worsen the situation. In fact, research from Easyroommate indicates that 60 percent of landlords have no intention of investing in their properties to make them more energy efficient.

Where did it all go wrong?
Despite the government’s best efforts, there were many problems from the start. This scheme was built on the concept of landlords being better off by borrowing money from the government for energy efficient improvements, given the repayments would be minimal. In reality, borrowers were actually hit with high interest rates. In addition, excessive regulations in the UK meant that loans could take up to 30 days to be granted, which frustrated landlords. As a result, participation was very low and scams emerged eroding the trust of the scheme.

What is the solution?
Although I am a firm believer that the most cost-effective way to save energy is by changing our consumption habits, it would have been more appropriate to scrap the Green Deal with a clear replacement scheme in place. The industry big players and the government must now work hand in hand to promptly implement an accessible scheme to help promote energy efficient homes. By being energy efficient, landlords will reap the benefits. Not only will it raise their property value, but it will also result in lower energy bills for tenants and a higher EPC rating.

David Cameron claims this is the ‘greenest government ever’. Frankly, I think that the government is not doing enough to develop solutions that will benefit tenants, landlords and the environment.

Furthermore, scrapping the Green Deal without any replacement will make it impossible to meet the initial goal of having all the properties rated E by 2018. In my opinion, because there is no funding available, there will be no incentive for landlords and homeowners to become more energy efficient and improve their EPC rating (as our survey showed).

London Rental Standard
Easyroommate has partnered with the Mayor of London, on the London Rental Scheme, with a goal to improve the overall quality of the capital’s private rented sector. Within the scheme, one of the key criteria is energy efficiency. It states: “Landlords must work towards compliance related to requests for energy efficiency improvements by tenants and in relation to low ratings in energy performance.’’

We recommend all landlords in London become accredited by the London Rental Standard.

With no real noticeable difference in carbon emissions reductions and landlords still not valuing the importance of making their properties more energy efficient, the government should act now. Conversations need to take place with leaders in the private rented sector and energy efficiency industry to understand where things went wrong. The government should then swiftly implement a new scheme which is not over regulated and incentivises landlords to invest in energy efficient property improvements offering tax benefits and low interest rates on loans. We also urge other cities in the UK to follow the example of London with the launch of the London Rental Scheme.