Landlords will be banned from renting out their properties if they fail to meet energy efficiency standards in the coming years, Minister for Energy pat Rabbitte has warned.
Publishing the national Affordable Energy Strategy, Mr Rabbitte said he also intended to review fuel allowance schemes to prioritise “colder homes”. However, he said the schemes would not be changed in the upcoming budget.
Under the proposals, landlords would be obliged to have minimum energy standards by 2020 or they could lose government support in the Rent Supplement or Rental Accommodation Schemes.
The strategy also plans to move away from the current grants-based system to encourage retrofitting to a model where households would borrow to finance works and would pay back the loan over time from savings made on energy bills.
Minister Rabbitte said the two pillar banks were agreeable to providing these loans.
Some €2 billion had been paid by the State in fuel supports in the last 10 years, while less than €200 million had been spent in bringing houses up to energy efficiency standards. Around 20% of households are experiencing energy poverty but social welfare fuel payments had been “largely ineffective” in tackling the problem, Mr Rabbitte said.
“To be perfectly honest, with some of the money you may as well be throwing it into the furnace because it’s going up the chimney.”
He said the Department of Energy planned to work with energy suppliers, community groups and local authorities to identify areas at risk of energy poverty.
Households would be offered benefit entitlement assessments and advice on energy-efficiency measures. Economies of scale could be achieved through group home upgrade schemes being adopted.
Grants for retrofitting measures will be replaced by a pay-as-you-save scheme where the cost of the installation is factored into regular energy bills.
The extent to which some landlords had allowed the energy standards of properties to deteriorate was “one of the ugly faces of the boom,” Mr Rabbitte said.
“Some landlords care little for energy standards because they’re not the ones paying the heating bills.”
In future landlords would not be able to rent properties without building energy rating (BER) certificates, and by 2020 regulation would remove properties with a rating of E, F and G from the rental market.