There are two major issues weighing on the shoulders of property owners in the UK at the moment, particularly if you are a portfolio landlord or housing association - energy bills and lowering EPC ratings.
An EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate, is measured from A to G and refers to energy efficiency. Currently, a rental property needs to have a minimum EPC rating of E or above, but the government has imposed targets on all rental properties that dictate that by 2025 the minimum rating for all newly tenanted buildings will be a C, and by 2028, all existing tenancies will also have to comply.
While this latest directive has led to many landlords selling their portfolios due to the expectation of high remedial costs, the flip side is that it gives them the opportunity to re-evaluate their properties and ensure that they are brought up to date in terms of maintenance and performance, which in turn will protect their investments.
It will also ensure that their tenants live in a clean, warm, comfortable, energy-efficient environment.
The death of Awaab Ishak, the two-year-old boy who developed a respiratory condition caused by exposure to mould in his home, is a stark warning to all those landlords who have cut corners when it comes to tackling damp and mould in the home.
According to a Citizens Advice study, 1.6 million children in England live in rented accommodation that has unacceptable levels of damp and mould. With energy costs spiralling, many of these families do not have the funds to heat their homes to the standard to help keep damp and mould at bay. What they do spend is simply battling against an impossible situation.
For landlords, the situation is clear. Damp and mould can kill. It has no place in any home, and if you are looking at increasing the EPC rating of your housing stock, then before anything else, you need to sort out any damp and mould issues.
While it is clear that the effects on the health of the tenants are of paramount importance when it comes to dealing with damp, landlords need to also take into account the detrimental effects on the property itself. Over time it can cause serious damage to a property’s overall infrastructure. Timber becomes rotten, and flakes away, which in turn can weaken the overall framework within a building; walls become waterlogged, which affects any internal decoration; black mould grows on silicone sealants in bathrooms and kitchens, eating away at their integrity and causing further leaks.
Ultimately, the longer you leave it, the worse the condition of the property and the more expensive it will be to fix it.
Should you decide to cut corners on damp proofing and look at tackling the EPC rating from the current standards of your properties, then you risk throwing good money after bad.
Common areas that are tackled for an increased EPC rating include:
Installing new windows and doors into a property that has persistent damp may resolve the issue temporarily. However, if the issue has not been properly treated, then the brickwork around the windows will still show signs of water ingress and continue to spread around the new installations.
Filling waterlogged walls with insulation will only make the problem worse. The insulation will eliminate any movement of air, which helps to dry the wall out. If the damp is caused by a leaking gutter or downpipe that has not been investigated and repaired, then any money you spend on insulating walls will be completely wasted - the damp and mould will continue to fester.
Any other investments made towards improving EPC ratings are simply firefighting an environmental situation that is, at best, standing still and certainly not improving.
Here at Garratt’s Damp & Timber, we work closely with social and private landlords, advising them on essential remedial works in preparation for improving the EPC rating. We work individually with each London company to create a realistic and achievable damp-proof course cost depending on the number of properties that require work being carried out.
To book a damp proof course survey, contact us through our online form and give us some information about your current housing needs - how many units you have and how many are in definite need of damp proofing attention. We will work with you as cost-effectively as possible to ensure that you remain on the right track towards achieving your EPC targets and helping your tenants to lower their own energy bills.