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Paul Bennett, Director

COP27 – the latest United Nations Climate Change Conference – has rolled out of town and our global effort to save the planet has, once again, been in the spotlight. While it can be hard to relate to the actions discussed by world leaders, the role residential property plays in our country’s carbon neutral effort is becoming clearer.

 

The estate agents at Behr & Butchoff have been digesting a glut of green living news that could shape the way we buy, sell and present property. One of the newest announcements comes from Barclays, who is launching a new cash reward pilot scheme designed to tackle ‘eco inertia’.

 

It’s acting on research that shows although 90% of homeowners want to make energy efficiency-related changes to their homes within five years, 73% say they can’t afford to make such changes. The banks says the general public has prioritised low-cost alterations, such as minimising food waste, reducing central heating usage and installing energy-efficient light fittings but they have shied away from major works due to financial implications.

 

The launch of the Barclays Greener Home Reward provides up to £2,000 to the bank’s mortgage customers who register online to take part in the pilot. They must spend the money on major energy efficient home improvements, such as an air-source heat pump, double or triple-glazed windows, solar panels or home insulation, and the installation must be completed by a TrustMark-registered business or tradesperson.

 

No additional lending is required to benefit from the scheme, and all new and existing Barclays UK residential mortgage customers are eligible. If successful, Barclays will look to develop the pilot into a more permanent support measure in the future.

 

Barclays is one of a growing number of financial institutions who realise that the buying and selling of property provides a pivotal milestone at which to improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock. UK Finance – the banking trade body – has also identified that the substantial outlay needed to make energy efficient improvements is a huge barrier, and has contacted the Government with a suggested solution.

 

It wants to incentivise property buyers to make green upgrades by refunding their stamp duty. To qualify, UK Finance suggests buyers would need to make the energy efficient improvements within the first two years of their purchase. It also advises that such a scheme should only start after 2025, when it says there will be enough trades to carry out specific eco installations.

 

Both announcements dial into a floating idea that all homes in England – not just those in the private rented and social housing sectors – will soon need a minimum EPC rating. In an official Parliament document and pertaining to the current Future Homes Standard, rising energy standards for all are set out.

As detailed:-

 

  • Upgrading fuel poor homes in England to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C “where reasonably practicable”.
  • Consulting on phasing in higher minimum performance standards to ensure all homes meet EPC Band C by 2035, “where cost-effective, practical and affordable”
  • Setting long-term regulatory standards to upgrade privately rented homes to EPC band C by 2028.

 

While it is not clear if the sale of properties with a below C grade EPC will be made illegal – in the same way renting out a property with an EPC of less than an E is now prohibited in the private rental sector – one can assume the current Government will use its relationships with lenders and estate agents like Behr & Butchoff to drive up eco standards in the residential property sector.

 

If you would like to discuss your EPC rating or would like to futureproof your property by making energy efficient improvements, contact the Behr & Butchoff team here in St. John’s Wood.