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Private landlords renting out badly insulated homes face penalties in 2018

Recently published figures show that the majority of dwellings with low energy performance ratings are privately owned or homes rented in the private sector. The cold homes are twice as likely to be located in rural regions than urban areas.

Commercial and residential landlords in England and Wales will be prohibited from renting out premises or renewing leases in buildings that fail to achieve at least an E energy performance rating by April 2018.

The regulation that will then become effective was approved by the UK's previous government and will still grant residential landlords some flexibility to wait until they have the funds to cover the costs of upgrading buildings to the required energy standard under the provisions of the now-defunct Green Deal.

Research from the Association for the Conservation of Energy (UKACE), based on 2013 data, found that nearly 16 per cent of the UK population lives in a home with a "leaking roof, damp walls, floors or foundation; or rot in window frames or floors".  Meanwhile, U values - the measure of heat loss through a building's fabric - are also poor across the nation's housing stock. In fact, the UK ranks seventh for walls, eighth for roofs, 10th for floors and 11th for windows among the 11 countries for which data is avaialble.

Earlier this year, the current government cancelled financing for the Green Deal programme and stopped accepting new applications. Even though there is no real clarity of what will happen come April 2018, a report issued by Remitnetwork suggests that UKACE currently advocates a broadening of funding for energy improvements that also contribute to achieving national targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"The solution to this crisis is for the UK government to designate home energy efficiency as an infrastructure priority and use infrastructure funds to deliver the stable long-term investment needed to implement a locally led infrastructure program to upgrade all U.K. homes to Band C on an energy performance certificate," UKACE said, adding that cold homes in the UK are also very expensive for other sectors. For example, improving energy efficiency can also reduce costs for the NHS, the organisation claims. It estimated that cold homes cost the NHS £1.3 billion every year.