COVID-19: Scottish Energy Efficiency PRS Regulations postponed

The Energy Efficiency (Domestic Private Rented Property) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 that were due to come into force on 1 April 2020, which required all properties in Scotland’s private rented sector to have a minimum EPC rating of E at a start of tenancy from 1 October 2020 have now been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The regulations were aimed at improving the energy efficiency of private rented housing and prohibit the letting of properties that fell below the minimum energy efficiency standards.

In a letter to the convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s local government and communities committee, Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning announced the delay stating that 'given the current COVID-19 crisis, a decision has been made not to make the regulations.' He went on to say: 'I am aware this is an unusual step, but these are very unusual and fast-moving times.'

The issues foreseen in the regulations were set out by Mr Stewart which included:

  • The regulations place new duties and responsibilities on local authorities. Between 1 April and 1 October 2020, local authorities would be required to develop a system for registering exemptions and to be ready to support landlords and enforce compliance. If introduced at this time, these duties would place a burden on them which would be detrimental to their necessary focus on frontline emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis, and their delivery of vital services and support to vulnerable people.
  • The regulations may require many private housing landlords to undertake energy efficiency works to their properties over the coming months, in anticipation of tenancy changes from 1 October 2020. This risks encouraging landlords to try and get work done in tenants’ homes when medical and government advice continues to mandate.

Stewart ended his letter by saying: 'For these reasons, I firmly believe it would be unwise to bring the regulations into force from 1 April as planned. I can assure you that I will push forward with the vital work of improving energy efficiency in private rented housing as soon as the current COVID-19 situation comes to an end.'

We appreciate this would have been a difficult decision for the Government to make however it is the right decision considering current circumstances.

With medical advice advising people to stay indoors the introduction of this legislation could have put an unnecessary burden on landlords or agents to comply with their legal obligations.

Daryl McIntosh Strategic Development Manager | Propertymark