Insights and Opinions Victoria Barker 04/09/2020

Green Homes Grants: what landlords need to know

NRLA local authority officer Gavin Dick explains more about new Green Homes Grants, which will soon be available for landlords in England to improve the energy efficiency of their rental properties.

Government grants that are available to the private rented sector – unusual words and as rare as hen’s teeth. Yet there are now grants, in the form of vouchers, available for landlords to do energy efficiency work to their properties.

With the targets for decarbonisation of the economy coming ever closer, government action is being ramped up. This year the UK went 67 days without coal use, new nuclear power is being debated, and wind and solar power usage is increasing.  The change in sources of energy generation has to be matched by a reduction in energy consumption.

Why does it matter?

With the residential sector accounting for a fifth of carbon emissions, we expect a consultation on increasing the minimum EPC ratings of private rented properties later this year. Government is never too far away with sticks but for once they have dangled a few carrots.

The Green Homes Grants in England are available to both owner-occupiers and landlords. They will fund up to two-thirds of the cost of installing eligible energy efficiency measures through a voucher scheme, up to a maximum of £5000 per property. This is to be delivered via companies that are registered through Trustmark. Grants will become available at the end of September and will be available for works completed by 31 March 2021.

Landlords should embrace these grants, as while there remains a cost to do the work, the upgrades will still be required when the grants are no longer available. Properties will need to get as close to an EPC A as possible potentially within the next 15 - 20 years. While this sounds a long time, it is a challenge for many properties and the cost will be significant.

How to access the grants

The government has created an easy to use tool on the Simple Energy Advice website to establish what you can do to your property and some indicative costs.

To do this you will need to know some details about your property and your tenant. The website is looking at the fabric of your properties, the type of building it is, the age of your building, where it has insulation (floor, roof and wall), the type of windows that you have (single, double or triple glazed). You may also be eligible for cladding or a new boiler or even look at renewables for your property.

You will also need to have an idea about how energy is used in the property i.e. how often the heating is used and when during the day.

Once you have completed the details for your property, you will be presented with a list of measures which you can undertake to improve its energy efficiency. The website will indicate which are eligible for the Green Homes Grant voucher. On selecting the measures you want to undertake, you will be given more details about how you can implement them, and any other financial support you may be eligible for.

You will then need to approach an accredited installer, who will apply the voucher to the cost and the Government will pay them directly.

What measures are eligible for the grants?

When you do this, there is a process that the government wishes you to follow when you improve your property. The new grant follows this process, the rational for this is a ‘no regrets’ approach and to make the biggest energy saving first. You must install at least one ‘primary’ home insulation or low carbon heating measure to be eligible for the grant. You can then use the remainder of the grant to cover a secondary measure if you wish.

If you are not eligible for any primary measures you will not be able to access secondary measure grants.

Primary measures are:

This is an opportunity for some landlords to make improvements to their properties. It is not often that government makes money available for the private rented sector, and those landlords that can should embrace it.

Full details about the Green Homes Grants are available here.