The government’s initiative to improve the energy efficiency of buildings has received a lot of press – much of it speculative. But now that it’s with us, is it delivering – and what does it mean for you if you work in the property industry?
Why a Green Deal?
The unsustainable system which predated the Green Deal, of subsidies and legal obligations on energy companies to support people wanting to do away with draughty homes and expensive fuel bills has been replaced with a system based on private-sector loans. Homeowners who would previously have been offered basic insulation at nil cost will now be paying not only the full cost, but an interest rate as well. If you think that sounds like a hard one to sell, you wouldn’t be alone, but the statistics released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in April indicate that over 9,000 Green Deal Assessments had been lodged up to the end of March, up from 1,803 at the end of the previous month, also up from the starting month’s figure of 1,729 – not bad for a new initiative which was ambitious to say the least.
Work in the property industry? Then this is for you
If you play any role in the property industry, then the chances are you will be touched by the Green Deal in one way or another. Although compliance is likely to fall to the property owner, bill payer or the person improving the property, you will not stand out from the crowd if you don’t know about the legislative framework and how it applies to your clients.
Landlords and sellers
You will need to meet the disclosure obligations unless you’ve instructed your agent to do so. Also, landlords, if you want to pass on repayments to your tenants, make sure you formalise any recouping arrangement. And mortgage lenders – you can’t rest on your laurels. You have the same responsibilities as any other owner/landlord if you sell or let a repossessed property.
Letting agents/estate agents
You may have a very specific role in terms of disclosure. The liability to repay passes with the property so it is key that any buyer is made fully aware of any repayment plan and any requirements attaching to the property. Failure to disclose means that a new bill payer could successfully challenge its liability under the plan – not good news for your client – and potentially you. Whilst you may not impress your clients, though, if you fail to advise, the good news is that the framework does not impose liability on agents to meet the requirements. Compliance rests firmly at the door of the seller or landlord so liability on your part is likely to arise as a result of contractual obligations.
You’ll need to know about any measures taken to improve the energy efficiency of a building if you are asked to advise on structural changes which might affect them.
No immediate affordability issues are envisaged, particularly in relation to mortgage borrowing, but if you’re in the property industry, only time will tell if it really is good to be green.