Despite groaning under the weight of numerous household problems, Jacqueline was recently subjected to a contentious section 13 notice, mandating an increase in rent. This comes in the wake of financial mogul Rishi Sunak’s decision to prematurely abort a suite of policies force landlords to enhance energy efficiency in their properties. With the suspension of such green commitments, the question arises: Where does the fate of tenants in England’s most energy-asphyxiated homes lie?
Upon moving into her new abode, Jacqueline was confronted with a less-than-ideal scenario. Her home was infested with vermin, with makeshift cardboard covering punctures in the ceiling and mold threatening her health. Yet after much wrangling, her landlord begrudgingly committed to the requisite repairs, boasting a brand new boiler. However, the only enacted change was a rent increase.
Meanwhile, Liz, another unlucky renter, is contending with a daily battle against persistent mold tarnishing her walls. A concerning call from her landlord revealed the possible illegal lease of the property, due to its dismal energy efficiency rating.
Peering out of her weather-beaten bungalow in Leicestershire, Liz spots the grandeur of her landlord’s five-bedroom mansion. Her own home has a poor energy performance certificate (EPC) rating, despite legislation changes that deemed an E as the minimum over three years ago.
The EPC serves as an index of the energy efficiency of a property, evaluating the usage of heat and light and categorizing homes from A (best) to G for rental or sale purposes. Liz’s eight-year occupancy has been marred by the rampant growth of dangerous black mold, a byproduct of poor insulation.
Liz laments the recurrence of black mold stains that need frequent cleaning, a practice she finds deeply dispiriting. Despite these adverse living conditions, she was recently informed by her landlord that the property’s EPC rating may have classified it as an illegal rental. Unfortunately, a fresh EPC assessment confirmed this suspicion with an even lower rating.
In a recent update, Rishi Sunak outlined modifications to the government’s green commitments, veering from banning the sale of new fuel-heavy vehicles to derailing proposals for car-sharing ventures. Haunted by landlords’ complaints about exorbitant costs, Sunak scrapped policies compelling landlords to improve energy efficiency.
Contrary to this, laws since April 2020 prohibit landlords from letting properties with an EPC lower than E, except under precisely registered exemptions.
However, the cruel irony of Jacqueline’s predicament surfaces as she navigates a home riddled with leaks, rodent infestations, and structural inconsistencies. Despite promises of repairs and a new boiler, her landlord increased the rent without taking any genuine restorative measures. This harrowing reality has gravely affected Jacqueline’s psychological wellbeing and perpetuated her fears of potential eviction.
The scrapping of the energy efficiency reforms by Sunak, a man she asserts is steeped in riches, and his disregard for struggling tenants like herself and Liz leave Jacqueline feeling disgusted. This sentiment is especially prevalent considering Sunak’s own fortunate circumstances, which include an upgraded local electricity network powering his heated swimming pool facility.
Despite the landlord’s hesitance to address the property’s decay and the audacious increase in rent, Jacqueline contends with her predicament, continually voicing concerns about common individuals who are left at the mercy of unscrupulous landlords and estate agents unwilling to maintain their properties.
Elsewhere, landlord Nic Overd, offering accommodation in the sleepy English town of Yeovil, Somerset, expresses relief over the government’s U-turn. Overd’s property, originally rated at C, saw multiple installations of double-glazed windows and doors. Yet these improvements resulted in a downgrade to a D.
With unwavering conviction, Overd insists that she has done all within her means for her tenants. If the government had pressed on with making C the minimum EPC rating, she asserts that forced homelessness would have been the only alternative. A robust advocate for her tenants, Overd fervently endeavors to provide them with a safe home whilst skirting around the full market value of rent.