SLE launches manifesto with plea to retain affordable rural homes for renters

The drive for energy efficiency must not jeopardise the supply of affordable rural homes for local people, according to Scottish Land and Estates (SLE) as it launched a manifesto ‘People, Jobs and Nature’ ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections.

The rural business organisation put a spotlight on problems within the methodology used to calculate EPCs and Energy Efficiency. It said many assessors are not sufficiently trained to understand rural properties and that assessors recommendations, could lead to a shortfall in rural homes available for rent.

Sarah-Jane Laing, SLE’s chief executive, said: “Our members provide affordable homes across rural Scotland, they are committed to continue doing so, but current methodology around EPCs is not fit for purpose and the consequences could be very serious.

“Many assessors are not sufficiently trained to understand traditional and rural properties when carrying out reviews. The upgrades they recommend are often not realistic, sustainable, or even environmentally beneficial. Currently if a boiler needs replacing, EPC methodology suggests an oil or gas boiler should be installed, rather than one powered by renewables.

“Inappropriate EPC reviews can lead to recommendations that are simply not realistic without significant increases to rents, increases our members are not prepared to ask their tenants to pay.

“Our members support a drive towards energy efficiency. They have been carrying out improvements to the homes they own for generations. They recognise the importance of tackling climate change and are involved in projects to help Scotland play its full role in doing so.”

Ms Laing added: “However, we must be wary of unintended consequences caused by faulty EPC methodology.

“There is a real risk that this failure of methodology could lead to less affordable homes being available in rural areas.”

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