With effect from 1st April 2016 tenants will be able to request consent from their landlords to carry out energy efficiency improvements to privately rented properties. The landlord will not be able to unreasonably refuse consent. It will, however, be the responsibility of the tenants to ensure that the works are funded and the intention is that no upfront costs should fall on the landlord, unless the landlord agrees to contribute. There are separate regulations requiring properties to be brought up to an E rating on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) which are effective from the 1st April 2018.

Scope – when can a tenant request consent to energy efficiency improvements?
The regulations apply to the domestic private rented sector in England and Wales. This means: –

Properties let under an assured tenancy or a tenancy or shorthold which is a regulated tenancy for the purposes of the Rent Act 1977.
Properties let (a) on a tenancy which is an assured agricultural occupancy (b) on a protected tenancy within the meaning given in the Rent (Agricultural) Act 1976, or (c) on a statutory tenancy within the meaning of the Act.

Any property within the definition of a domestic privately rented property is within the scope of the tenant’s rights regulations, regardless of whether the property has an EPC at the time of the tenant making a request. However, where a building would not be within the scope of the EPC regulations, a landlord would not be required to provide consent to improvements. Such situations include where the building has the required and evidenced permissions for demolition; or where the building is a temporary structure with an evidenced and planned time of use of two years or less.

Improvements covered

This means any energy efficiency improvement which qualifies for the Green Deal and it also extends to installing a gas supply in an off gas property where the mains are within 23 metres from the property.

Nature of the request

The request is for the landlord to give consent to the carrying out of specified works. This extends not just to the immediate landlord but also, in the case of leasehold properties, to a superior landlord as well as the freeholder. Consent must not be unreasonably refused by any of them. Consent is widely defined so that it is not just for permission under the terms of a tenancy agreement, e.g. a consent to alterations clause, but it can extend to asking for a right to carry out work, e.g. work outside the boundaries of the property which is let. This is particularly important in the case of a block of flats.

The tenant’s request process

The process is as follows:-

A tenant will be able to request consent to install energy efficiency measures at a property as long as – (i) the measure is one of the energy efficiency measures listed in the Schedule to the Green Deal (Qualifying Energy Improvements) Order 2012, or is a measure to be installed in order to connect to the gas network; and (ii) the tenant has a way of funding the measure at no cost to the landlord (e.g. by using Green Deal finance, government grants or incentives, ECO, other grant funding from third parties or local authorities, or paying for the measures themselves).

An EPC, surveyors report or Green Deal Advice Report (GDAR) is not required under these regulations, but may be required should the tenant wish to make use of Government funding, or ECO.

Where a tenant does not provide an EPC, surveyors report or GDAR as part of the tenant request, the landlord would have grounds for refusing consent if they had advice(e.g. from a surveyor’s report, or from a GDAR) that the measure was not suitable for the property.

For a request to be valid, the tenant must specify and provide details of the energy efficiency measure(s) they wish to install, and provide written evidence to the landlord of either (i) any Green Deal Finance Plan, demonstrating that the package is fully funded, through Green Deal finance and/or ECO, grant or tenant funding, or (ii) where works are proposed to be paid for without Green Deal Finance, the tenant must provide evidence of quotes for the improvements from an authorised Green Deal installer or installer who meets relevant installer standards.

Landlords are able to propose a counter offer where the energy efficiency improvements would deliver the same, or substantially the same, savings on the energy bills as was specified in the tenant’s request. In addition, the energy efficiency improvements specified in the counter proposal must not result in an initial, or a continuing, cost to the tenant which exceeds the cost of all the relevant energy efficiency improvements specified in the request.
Information taken from RLA website on 8/4/16.