Oxford City Council has won £150,000 from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to improve energy efficiency in the private rented sector.
BEIS has chosen Oxford as one of six pilot areas to enforce the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) that became law in April 2018.
Anyone letting or looking to let a property must have an energy performance certificate (EPC) to show tenants how energy efficient the property is. Under MEES, the lowest EPC rating allowed is an E – properties with an EPC rating of F or G cannot be rented out.
Landlords whose properties do not meet MEES could be made to undertake up to £3,500 of works to bring them up to the required standard.
The council will enforce MEES compliance through inspections of private rented housing and its HMO licensing scheme. It will also work with Oxfordshire County Council to identify private rented homes in need of energy efficiency improvements and provide information and good practice guidance to landlords.
As part of this work, last month the council ran a joint event with BEIS to consult on government proposals to raise the lowest EPC rating in rented housing to C in 2030. This was attended by around 40 landlords, agents, council officers and business representatives.
Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing, said: “I’m pleased to announce this funding because we take a proactive role in driving up standards in the private rented sector and improving energy efficiency is an important part of this.
“Fuel poverty is a big issue in the private rented sector and this is especially the case in Oxford, where we have the highest proportion of private rented homes in the country. On average, a private tenant will save £700 a year in energy costs when their landlord raises their home’s EPC rating from an F to an E.
“Improving energy efficiency in private rented homes is not just good news for tenants. Domestic energy makes a considerable contribution to carbon emissions across the country. Earlier this year, the council unanimously declared a climate emergency and we are determined to take what measures we can to reduce carbon emissions.”