Green Light For Digital Property Energy Efficiency

The government has greenlighted two new digital services aimed at helping landlords and homeowners make the most of energy-efficiency technology. 

Housing Minister Christopher Pincher launched a new service for tenants and movers, making finding an energy performance certificate easier. 

While Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s Green Grant Voucher scheme has also opened for applications – for landlords that can find an installer.

Book or check an EPC online

Pincher claims the new service will let landlords book energy performance certificates (EPCs) and check the energy efficiency of homes online.

The minister claims using the EPC to upgrade a home could save tenants up to £600 a year in energy costs.

“This new service is part of our commitment to improving the energy performance of all properties to create a cleaner, greener built environment,” said Pincher. 

“It will help people to assess if they can improve the energy efficiency of their own homes – helping to improve the environment and save on bills. 

“We are improving the quality of housing across the country by ensuring new homes adhere to strict energy efficiency standards and our Green Homes Grant helps to cover the cost of making energy efficient improvements to existing homes.”

How to book an EPC

Landlords should click here to go to the EPC booking link. To find an authorised assessor, enter the property's postcode needing the EPC or type the assessor’s name. Click ‘Find’, and the search should return the ten nearest assessors to the property.

Check a property’s EPC

A free, searchable online database of more than 27 million EPCs is available for anyone to access online. The data covers England and Wales, and properties in Scotland are listed under the Scottish Energy Certificate Service.

More EPC changes are on the way

Alongside the online digital EPCs, Pincher announced a raft of changes to the service.

Changes by the end of 2020

  • Better explanation of how EPCs work to be published online
  • Review of assessor competence aimed at weeding out poor performers
  • Possibility of EPC calculation formulas to be published online to help landlords and homeowners check their ratings
  • Adding an error reporting system to flag incorrect or fraudulent EPCs

Changes by the end of 2021

  • Back-end database improvements to aid local authorities in identifying non-conforming properties and input errors
  • Measures to improve EPC quality assurance, such as audit schemes
  • Updating fuel prices to reflect costs and fitting smart meters better
  • A review of non-compliance penalties for landlords and homeowners
  • Enlisting help from mortgage lenders and letting agents check rental homes have current EPCs
  • A general review to improve accountability of assessors to tackle fraud

Full details of the changes and information about the 229 responses to a call for evidence about how EPCs are working were also published on the Ministry of Housing website

Green Homes Grant applications open

Landlords can claim up to £5,000 in energy-saving vouchers to help them make their homes warmer. 

Around 620,000 homes in England qualify for cash help to instal green technology under the £3 billion government-backed scheme that aims to make the country carbon neutral by 2050. 

Homeowners can pick up a grant worth around two-thirds of the cost of the green improvement. Landlords claiming the grant for adding extra loft and cavity wall insulation to a property that cost £4,000 would pay £1,320 towards the bill, with the government picking up the rest for £2,680.

Homes that qualify for the Green Homes Grant

The Green Homes Grant is open to private landlords who must own but do not have to live in the property where the improvements are carried out. 

New homes that have never been lived in are barred from the scheme. The grant is doubled to £10,000 for low-income families, but this would not apply to landlords even if their tenants qualify under this rule. 

The tenants cannot claim as the scheme is only open to property owners.

How to claim the Green Homes Grant voucher

Landlords must go through three steps before applying for the Green Homes Grant voucher:

Check Eligibility

Go through the check-in procedure on the Simple Energy Advice website. To complete the form, landlords need to confirm the following:

  • The property for green technology improvement is in England
  • That they are landlords
  • The home is not a new build that is not yet rented out

Planning energy efficiency improvements

After checking eligibility, the SEA website offers an energy efficiency plan, possible energy savings and costings based on the current energy performance certificate. The features are split between primary and secondary improvements. 

Primary improvements are:

  • Solid wall, under-floor, cavity wall or roof insulation
  • Adding air source or ground source heat pumps
  • Installing solar thermal equipment, like roof panels

Providing at least one of these improvements is carried out, and landlords can go on to claim more cash towards secondary improvements like:

  • Replacing single glazing with double, triple or secondary glazing,
  • Installing energy-efficient doors
  • Fitting hot water tank thermostats and heating controls

Finding an installer

Go to the TrustMark website to find an authorised installer for the work. The government suggests getting three quotes for the job; DIY or installations by non-authorised installers are not allowed.

Claiming the voucher

No work can take place until a Green Homes Grant voucher is issued. The voucher is restricted to the named landlord and installing a specific measure at a designated property. If more than one installation occurs, each will have a voucher. Once the work is complete, to redeem the voucher, landlords must:

  • Confirm the work was completed before March 31, 2021
  • The installer has completed their Green Homes Grant documentation
  • The landlord's share of the cost is paid in full
  • The applicant is eligible for the scheme
  • The landlord has an invoice for the work from the installer

Green Homes Grant scam warning

Fraud prevention service Cifas has cautioned landlords and homeowners against scammers selling fake Green Homes Grant vouchers. The fraudsters cold call victims to tell them they are eligible for the £5,000 vouchers and direct them to bogus websites to make an application. 

The website asks for personal and financial details that the scammers try to use to obtain money.

Amber Burridge, the Cifas head of fraud intelligence said: "Stop and think carefully before responding to unsolicited calls, texts or emails, and always challenge requests for personal or financial information. 

"Never feel rushed or pressured into a decision – it’s a well-known tactic that only criminals will use."

Going green to make homes more energy efficient is a key government policy, and the EPC is seen as a vital tool in identifying improvements for a home. The £5,000 Green Homes Grant incentivises landlords and other property owners to act. 

For landlords wanting to take advantage of the scheme, here are the answers to some most asked questions.

Can I upgrade my entire property portfolio?

Yes. Landlords are not restricted to a single grant and can claim vouchers of up to £5000 for each home in their portfolio, providing the qualifying conditions are met for each.

If the tenant is on a low income or benefits, can I apply for a £10,000 voucher?

No. The income test only applies to the property owner, and landlords are excluded from claiming the higher value voucher.

Can I apply if my property is in England but I live in Wales?

Yes. The qualifying factor for the Green Homes Grant is the property's location, not where the landlord lives.

What happens if my home has no EPC?

All rental properties in England should have a current EPC by law. Rectify the situation by commissioning one straight away. Landlords without an EPC may find that this impacts serving an eviction notice.

What happens if my buy-to-let is EPC-rated F or G?

If your property is barred from rental because it fails to meet the minimum energy efficiency rating of E, you cannot apply for a Green Homes Grant. Energy efficiency standards should be raised to meet the E rating.

What’s the deadline for cashing in a voucher?

All Green Home Grant improvements must be completed and vouchers redeemed by March 31, 2021.

Will I have to get re-rated for an EPC because of the database changes?

No. Current EPCs remain valid, and any changes will automatically apply to new EPCs as they become due for renewal or on the sale of a home.

View Related Handbook Page

Energy Efficiency Improvements

A tenant is allowed to reasonably ask for a relevant energy efficiency improvement. From 1 April 2018, all rented property let on assured shorthold tenancies, regulated tenancies under the Rent Act 1977 and four types of agricultural tenancy, which is to have a new tenancy must have an EPC rating of at least "E".

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)

Since 1 October 2008, landlords have been required to make an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available to prospective tenants when a property is being advertised for sale or let. The purpose of the EPC is to show prospective tenants the energy performance of the dwelling they are considering renting.