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Energy efficiency ratings for council homes being overlooked, and it’s costing tenants and the climate

By Ben Lynch, Local Democracy Reporter

Thousands of homes in west London are missing key energy performance ratings, with campaigners warning the data gaps may mean homes are needlessly leaking heat and councils will miss crucial targets on climate change and fuel poverty.

An investigation has found both Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham have no record of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating held by thousands of properties they own, or there’s no record of whether they have had an assessment at all.

Both Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea said they were investing millions in their housing stocks, and are surveying homes to understand what improvements are needed.

However EPCs are assigned to properties across the UK indicating how energy efficient they are, and without that data, there’s a risk some homes with poor efficiency ratings are going under the radar, leading to higher bills for tenants.

Introduced in 2008, EPCs grade homes from A as the best rating to G as the worst, and include tips on how to improve it.

All homes due to be rented out or sold are required to get one, and the certificates are valid for a period of 10 years. But those that have had the same occupants since before the law change came in don’t always have an EPC rating.

As well as playing an important part in tackling fuel poverty, they are seen as key in reducing carbon emissions.

The data for Kensington and Chelsea, released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, revealed that while it had 5,072 tenanted and leasehold properties rated between B and G, there were another 4,561 for which it had no record.

A spokesman for the council said not all of these homes are necessarily without an EPC rating, but rather that in some cases the council does not know it.

For Hammersmith and Fulham, the data indicates it has 4,472 homes with no EPC rating, against a further 5,224 that are rated B to G.

Matt Copeland, head of Policy and Public Affairs, National Energy Action (Picture: Tom Jackson, Tynesight Photography)

When the data was originally requested earlier this year the number of homes in the borough without a record of their rating stood at 6,976 showing the council is working to address the issue, with ratings for 2,504 homes secured in just a few months.

Westminster City council said it uses a modelled EPC score generated using an online algorithm based on Westminster’s property database, which would be more up to date in terms of inputs such as insulation levels.

Matt Copeland, head of Policy and Public Affairs at National Energy Action, said: “Certificates play a crucial role in our efforts to end fuel poverty, and ultimately to reach net zero.

“If local authorities do not understand the energy efficiency of their stock, their ability to work towards fuel poverty and net zero targets are compromised. Local authorities should look to identify the properties without a rating, and seek EPC assessments as soon as possible.”

Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, leader of the Conservative opposition in Hammersmith and Fulham, said that the number of council properties without a rating ‘is yet another shameful indictment’ of the Labour administration. “When will they wake up to actually caring for council tenants?” she said.

A Government spokesperson said: “Everyone has the right to a warm, secure and decent home, and we expect landlords to meet our energy efficiency standards before letting properties.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham spokesman said: “We’re investing £1.4 million a week modernising our homes for local residents. The works include making properties more energy efficient which benefits both our residents with lower bills, and the environment.

“So far, we have carried out more than 11,000 stock condition surveys and around 3,000 new EPCs on our homes to better understand what further improvements and futureproofing is needed.”

Westminster City council said while it holds EPC ratings for its homes, they could be up to 10 years old and do not cover the whole stock, which is why it uses a modelled score.

A Kensington and Chelsea spokesman said: “Where we have acquired new properties or where tenants have been in place before the law came in, EPCs are more challenging to obtain. We have a programme to survey properties without an EPC.”

Pictured top: Workmen insulating a home (Picture: Tom Jackson, Tynesight Photography)

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