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Trade group warns of threat to lettings sector from energy measures

Proposals in Scotland for a minimum energy efficiency standard for privately let homes could damage the sector, especially in rural communities.

That’s the warning from Scottish Land & Estates, an organisation which represents the majority of private housing providers in rural Scotland.

In a submission to a Scottish Government consultation on energy efficiency in private rented housing, the group says  the particular challenges of rural housing should be taken account, with policies targeting the worst performing housing with the rural sector given time to gradually improve energy standards.

Policy officer Katy Dickson says: “Our response makes clear that there is a risk that the private rented sector could be damaged by well-meaning but ultimately flawed proposals for new energy efficiency standards.

“Scottish Land & Estates is calling for the minimum standard to be set at EPC level E and for there to be no back stop date. This means the measures will target the worst performing stock and full upgrades can be completed gradually at natural breaks in tenancies. Ultimately this means all low performing homes will reach a better standard than the current proposals would allow and there would be less disruption to tenants.

“If the regulations are not manageable or appropriately funded then landlords will consider increasing rents in order to pay for energy efficiency investments or even leaving the sector. Our members are being told there is a rural affordable housing shortage and the Scottish Government is encouraging them to develop new housing to let.

“However, when faced with a new unfavourable tenancy regime and now a proposed minimum energy standard which fails to tackle the issues, landlords are being forced to consider if it viable to continue to let as many properties on a long-term basis at affordable rents.”

The organisation added that problems with accurately assessing energy ratings also created worries for the sector.

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