The government’s recent net-zero changes: advice for homeowners

17th October 2023

The government’s recent announcement to roll back certain net-zero initiatives has left homeowners and landlords with more time to introduce energy efficient changes to their properties although there are still future deadlines to bear in mind:

Gas and oil boilers

Up until the government’s announcement at the end of September 2023, homeowners with oil boilers were faced with a 2025 deadline to replace their defunct oil boilers with like for like. From 2026, they would have had to replace their old oil boilers with an alternative form of heating such as an air source heat pump.

Oil boiler owners have now been given a reprieve and will only face such a restriction in 2036. Even then, certain oil boiler owners may be exempted from such changes if, for example, are not on the gas grid.

Such owners were also faced with a ban on installing new gas boilers from 2025 – this has also been extended until 2035. There will also be exemptions for those that would struggle financially to move away from gas boilers.

The government was keen to highlight that while they wanted to ensure their net-zero target is met, they realise that homeowners would find it difficult to make such a financial commitment towards greener energy during a cost-of-living crisis. It is thought that the additional ten years will help homeowners better plan and budget for such changes.

The government has also increased the grant funding for air source heat pumps from £5000 to £7500 with a view to encouraging this greener form of heating. However, many criticise this type of heating as being inefficient for many of the older houses that dominate the UK housing stock.

What can home buyers do?

If you are in the process of buying a home, make sure you obtain a service report on the gas or oil boiler to ascertain its longevity. Also check if the property is on the gas grid. This will help you budget for future heating installation changes if you are planning on staying at the property long-term.

Landlords and EPCs

Many residential landlords had been worried about the cost of making their properties more energy efficient. Up until September the government had stipulated that properties let by landlords would have to achieve an EPC grading of C by 2028 in order to be let to tenants (currently a grade E is required). Some landlords had already made significant investments to upgrade their properties and others had been deterred from buying grade D and E properties due to the investment that would have been needed to bring the properties up to standard. The government has not specified a future date for such measures to be re-introduced.

It was a relief for many landlords when the government’s September announcement also scrapped the proposed EPC changes. Landlords must still ensure that their let properties achieve at least an E EPC grading.

Landlords in Wales are still faced with separate requirements under the new occupation contract regime and they must ensure their let properties are ‘fit for purpose’ by 1 December 2023. The Welsh legislation sets out specific requirements for this which includes carbon monoxide alarms, fire safety alarms and further requirements on a range of matters including mould, adequate lighting, and exposure to pests.

What can landlords do?

While no future date has been set for improving the energy efficiency of their let properties, landlords should be mindful that with the target of achieving net-zero, such requirements may be re-introduced in future and any change in government may also see a change in requirements. They may want to consider budgeting for such requirements now so that they are prepared for any future changes.

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