Landlords face rent ban over energy efficiency targets

 

LANDLORDS WILL be prevented from putting properties up for rent if they fail to meet energy efficiency standards, Minister for Energy Pat Rabbitte has said.

Publishing the national Affordable Energy Strategy yesterday, Mr Rabbitte said he also intended to review fuel allowance schemes to prioritise “colder homes”. However, he said the schemes would not be changed in the upcoming budget.

Some €2 billion had been paid by the State in fuel supports in the last 10 years, while less than €200 million had been spent in bringing houses up to energy efficiency standards. Around 20 per cent of households are experiencing energy poverty but social welfare fuel payments had been “largely ineffective” in tackling the problem, Mr Rabbitte said.

“To be perfectly honest, with some of the money you may as well be throwing it into the furnace because it’s going up the chimney.”

He said the Department of Energy planned to work with energy suppliers, community groups and local authorities to identify areas at risk of energy poverty.

Households would be offered benefit entitlement assessments and advice on energy-efficiency measures. Economies of scale could be achieved through group home upgrade schemes being adopted.

Grants for retrofitting measures will be replaced by a pay-as-you-save scheme where the cost of the installation is factored into regular energy bills.

The extent to which some landlords had allowed the energy standards of properties to deteriorate was “one of the ugly faces of the boom”, Mr Rabbitte said.

“Some landlords care little for energy standards because they’re not the ones paying the heating bills.”

In future landlords would not be able to rent properties without building energy rating (BER) certificates, and by 2020 regulation would remove properties with a rating of E, F and G from the rental market.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul said there were “serious gaps” in the strategy, few firm commitments and a failure to mention the domestic oil sector.

“There is precious little regarding specifics or timescales in terms of future measures in the strategy. Specific and time-bound actions need to be named in order to adequately tackle energy poverty for those we assist in a humane and timely manner,” said John-Mark McCafferty, head of social policy and justice at the society.