The government has increased the amount private landlords will be expected to pay to bring their energy inefficient properties up to scratch.

Under minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES), which took effect in April 2018, private landlords are required to ensure their properties meet energy performance certificate (EPC) band E when let out.

In a consultation paper issued last December, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) proposed that landlords should have to pay a maximum of £2,500 to bring sub-standard properties up to scratch, sparking criticism by fuel poverty campaigners.

In the final version of the rules, which will have to be rubber stamped by parliament, the government has said this cap will be increased to £3,500.

Landlords will also be exempted from paying for the energy efficiency improvement upgrade, which are expected to cost an average of £1,200 per property, if they can provide evidence from three installers that the necessary works cannot be carried out for less than £3,500.

The government estimates that raising the cap will enable 48 per cent of private rented EPC F and G rated properties to be improved to EPC E, as opposed to 32 per cent if the lower level had been allowed.

It says there are around 290,000 domestic private rented properties in England and Wales with an EPC rating of band F and G, of which 45 per cent are occupied by fuel poor households.

The government paper says the increase in the cap is an “appropriate and workable compromise that will enable a significant improvement” in the number of fuel poor households.

Energy and clean growth minister Claire Perry said: ”While the vast majority of landlords take great pride in the properties they own, a minority still rent out housing that is difficult to keep warm. Upgrading these homes so they are more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways to tackle fuel poverty and help bring down bills for their tenants, saving them £180 a year.”

Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive of the UK Green Buildings Council welcomed the government’s move to increase the cap as a step in the right direction.

She said: “It is encouraging that the government has listened to concerns about the MEES and has increased the level of cost-cap. But, unfortunately the amended regulations announced today are only half-measures on tackling both fuel poverty and carbon emissions.

“We urgently need to see the government’s clean growth rhetoric of recent weeks reflected in meaningful policy action. If we are to end fuel poverty, reduce carbon emissions and deliver the government’s stated ambition of keeping the UK at the forefront of tackling climate change, we urgently need a step change in the strength and efficacy of regulations being brought forward.”

What to read next