Thursday, 4 March 2010

Houses with low energy efficiency will lose value in government plans

Ben Webster, Environment Editor

Houses with low energy efficiency will lose value under government plans to intervene in the property market to help cut greenhouse gas emissions from homes by a third by 2020.
Estate agents will be given guidance telling them to take more notice of energy efficiency when deciding the value of homes. Ministers believe that homeowners are more likely to pay for efficiency measures such as solar panels and insulation if their investment clearly increases the property’s value.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change said in a strategy document that it had asked the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors for recommendations to ensure that a home’s energy performance was “better reflected” in its value. Council tax rebates of more than £100 a year will be offered to homeowners who improve insulation. Landlords will be barred from letting poorly insulated properties and will have to upgrade them to a minimum standard of energy efficiency.
Councils will be able to require energy companies to work with them to insulate social housing. Banks and shops will be encouraged to offer loans of £10,000 per home to householders who install solar panels, heat pumps and insulation. The repayments will be covered by savings in energy bills.

Legislation will allow the loans to be linked to the home rather than the owner, meaning that when the home is sold the new owner will inherit the debt. The National Association of Estate Agents said that such debts could make business more difficult.
John Healey, the Housing Minister, said that action was needed to reduce energy wastage in privately rented homes, which tended to be older and in poorer condition than owner-occupied homes. It is proposed to make the installation of loft and cavity wall insulation a condition of renting out a property.