Having a warm and safe home should not be a privilege
Living in a home that’s cold and draughty because it’s too expensive to heat is miserable. For some families renting in the private sector, this is sadly their reality.
Although we know that most private landlords ensure that the properties they rent are well-insulated and affordable to live in, it’s clear that there are also tenants living in some of the least energy efficient homes in Scotland. Together with recently announced energy price hikes, they face high energy bills which are more likely to push them into fuel poverty, defined as a household having to spend more than ten per cent of its total income on staying warm.
To put this into context, all rented properties are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which shows the property’s energy efficiency rating: from ‘A’, which is the best through to ‘G’, the worst. At present, almost 30% of private rented sector properties in Scotland have the lowest energy efficiency ratings of E, F and G – compared to 22% in the owner occupied sector and 10% in the social housing sector.
Given that almost one in seven people in Scotland rent in the private sector, eliminating poor energy efficiency as a cause of fuel poverty is a major priority for us. Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) will transform our homes over the next 15-20 years by making them more energy efficient and as part of that work, we’ve just issued a consultation proposing that all privately rented homes in Scotland meet the minimum standard of ‘E’ energy efficiency rating at the point of rental from 2019 and ‘D’ from 2022. We are also seeking views on improving the safety standards and physical condition expected of privately rented properties to bring them closer to social rented housing standards.
Since 2009 we have allocated over £650 million and we will make available half a billion pounds over the next four years to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency. This means over £1 billion will have been committed by 2021 to help people to heat their homes affordably. As part of that we have just announced £30 million for landlord and homeowners to apply for interest-free loans for energy efficiency measures through the Home Energy Efficiency Programme.
The Existing Homes Alliance and the Scottish Association of Landlords have welcomed our consultation as a way of tackling fuel poverty and improving standards. We want to ensure that all people living in Scotland can access a warm and safe home. If landlords are renting out property then they need to be able to ensure their property reaches a minimum standard. That way both landlords and tenants will benefit.