Scotland’s EPC laws are changing, which means that landlords within the PRS will have to upgrade their properties to meet new requirements. The aim of these new rules is to improve the energy efficiency of rental properties in Scotland and reduce carbon emissions. Should you have any questions about your property or the new legislation, please get in touch with Tay Letting to find out more.
What are the new EPC rules for landlords in Scotland?
Starting in 2025, all new rental properties must have an EPC rating of Band C or higher, according to the government’s recent rule change. For existing tenancies, the new regulations will not take effect until 2028.
Currently, properties are required to have an EPC rating of E or higher. These rule changes align with the government’s target of achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and promoting more energy-efficient homes.
What is an EPC rating? And why does it matter?
An EPC rating, or Energy Performance Certificate rating, is a measure of the energy efficiency of a building or property. It is calculated by an accredited assessor, using a standardized assessment, which takes into account factors such as the building’s construction, insulation, heating and lighting systems, and renewable energy sources.
EPC ratings are important because they help landlords and tenants understand the energy efficiency of a building and how much energy it is likely to consume. Higher-rated buildings are more energy-efficient, meaning they use less energy and emit less carbon dioxide into the environment.
Failure to comply with EPC regulations can result in penalties or fines, so it is important for property owners and landlords to obtain a valid EPC certificate and ensure that their properties meet the minimum energy efficiency standards.
Prepare for Scotland’s new legislation: how to reduce your EPC rating
1. Upgrade to LED lightbulbs
A combination of large and small changes will help to lower your EPC score. Changing the lightbulbs throughout your property is an easy way to improve your EPC rating. If your property’s rating is borderline between E and F, you may be able to boost it by simply swapping out your old halogen or incandescent light bulbs for LED bulbs.
2. Insulate your house
Insulating your property is one of the most effective changes you can make to improve its energy efficiency. Heat escapes through the roof, walls, windows and floors of your property and accounts for a huge proportion of heat loss.
Insulation can significantly reduce this heat loss, and it is often a more cost-effective solution compared to other improvements. Additionally, it will not cause major disruptions to your tenants. By insulating your property, you can quickly improve your EPC rating and move out of the lower danger zones. For example, insulating the loft with at least 270mm thick boards or wool can dramatically reduce heat loss through the roof.
3. Invest in superior glazing
Once you’ve addressed your insulation issues, the next step is to focus on your windows.
Older windows can account for up to 40% of heat loss in a property, so if your windows are quite old, it may be worthwhile to consider installing high-performance glazing. This can make a significant difference to the energy efficiency of your property.
Having single-glazed windows can be a key reason why some properties fail to achieve the minimum required EPC rating of E. By installing double-glazed windows, you could potentially increase your EPC rating by one or two grades.
4. Consider installing a new boiler
If you’re looking to improve the energy efficiency of your property, it’s wise to focus on your central heating system, which accounts for a significant portion of energy costs. An inefficient, old boiler with a low appliance rating, such as ‘G’, can severely impact your EPC rating. Upgrading to a new, A-rated condensing boiler with a programmer and thermostat can help bring your property up to scratch.
Although a new boiler can cost between £1,000 and £3,000, the investment can significantly improve the energy efficiency of your property and make it more attractive to potential tenants, resulting in savings on heating costs.
5. Install a smart metre
If you don’t already have smart metres installed across your properties, this is a quick way to improve your energy rating and help your tenants spend more efficiently on heating.
Smart meters are an excellent tool for helping tenants understand and manage their energy usage, encouraging them to adopt more sustainable habits. By providing real-time information on energy consumption, tenants can see the direct impact of their behaviour and make informed decisions to reduce waste.
How will the policy be enforced?
Local authorities will be responsible for enforcing these regulations and can impose penalties on landlords who do not comply. There are some exemptions to the minimum EPC rating requirements, including where the property is listed or in a conservation area, or where the energy efficiency improvements would have a negative impact on the property’s value.
Is Net Zero within reach for Scotland?
The legislation has been contentious, with many landlords feeling the current goals are unattainable. Nine in 10 sector leaders surveyed by the British Property Federation and JLL do not believe current government policy will deliver a carbon-free property sector in less than 30 years.
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