The countryside lettings sector will be badly hit by new energy efficiency rules being introduced by the government next year.
That’s the view of the rural pressure group the CLA, which says those letting homes in the country face higher costs and fewer options to meet the new requirements.
The government this week announced that landlords are required to spend £3,500 improving properties with the lowest energy performance ratings.
But the CLA - whose members provide around 40 per cent of all private rented housing in the countryside - says rural areas are hit hardest by these regulations because properties not connected to the gas network are automatically scored lower for using alternative fuels.
CLA President Tim Breitmeyer says: “Since the Green Deal ended in 2015, the industry has been in an uncertain position waiting to understand what steps a landlord must take to comply. Landlords are still in limbo because despite these regulations coming into force almost seven months ago, the government must still find time ... to implement the changes, so the uncertainty looks set to continue.
“We want to encourage better investment in the rural private rented sector to provide safe, warm homes. The majority of our members have already taken steps to ensure their properties comply with these energy efficient requirements, and in many cases, have invested far greater amounts than the £3,500 cap.”
He claims some four million properties are off the grid and rely on fuel which is more expensive than gas. “This automatically results in a lower score than their urban counterparts, which increases the costs of compliance. Removing fuel price from how properties are judged would help to address this issue” he says.
Breitmeyer adds: “Some landlords with properties in more scenic parts of the country could decide it is simply not viable to make the upgrade and either sell or let as holiday accommodation.”
Meanwhile there has also been a challenging response to the new measures from the Residential Landlords Association.
In a statement it says: “The proportion of private rented homes with the worst energy efficiency ratings of F or G has fallen from 39 per cent in 1996 to seven per cent in 2016. Whilst good news, we should seek to ensure every private rented property is as energy efficient as possible.
“To help achieve this, the RLA produced recommendations for the Budget, which were ignored, that any work a landlord carries out that is recommended on an Energy Performance Certificate should be tax deductible. It is bizarre that, for example, replacing a broken boiler is classed as a tax deductible repair, but this is not the case if a landlord wants to replace an old boiler with one that is more energy efficient.”