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Energy Performance Certificates Regulations Loom

Created: July 6, 2017
Posted in: Industry News, Regulations, Representation, Self-catering Industry

Campaign to Raise Awareness of the Threat EPC Regulations Pose to the Self-catering and Short-Term Letting Sector in Scotland

The ASSC has recently responded to the Scottish Government’s Call for Evidence in relation to Energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing. 

A background briefing on EPCs and the ASSC’s full submission can be read or downloaded from the Reports and Studies page of the ASSC website.

As you would expect, the ASSC has argued that the self-catering sector should be afforded an exemption. To quote from our submission: “The ASSC affirms that short-term holiday lets should not be subject to the same regulation as tenancies in the private sector. In relation to any future regulation proposed, the ASSC would respectfully advise that Scottish policymakers should be mindful of the significant role our sector plays in the tourism economy. All-encompassing regulation could have unintended consequences not only for our members but the Scottish tourism economy.”

Members may be unaware that the self-catering sector has previously been excluded from the need to provide an Energy Performance Certificate, other than in the case of the property being put up for sale. Recently this exemption has been withdrawn by Scottish Government and the ASSC has been questioning the justification for this change. Advice has been anything but clear and we continue to lobby for clarification for our sector.

What has become clear is that the government is considering introducing further legislation that could impact negatively on self-catering if we are not granted an exemption. The danger here is that the government, whilst well intentioned in its desire to improve energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing, will require all accommodation providers to meet minimum standards which are out of reach of many existing Scottish holiday lets. Past building standards for properties which were built specifically for the self-catering sector (often in council areas where restrictions applied on the maximum number of months that these could be occupied) mean that many buildings would fail today’s higher standards and failure to meet the minimum standard would presumably result in that property being withdrawn from the self-catering sector.

ASSC argues that holiday makers are unlikely to select holiday accommodation according to its energy efficiency – provided the energy costs are incorporated into the rental price. If your holiday accommodation still charges customers separately by way of a fuel supplement or by meter reading we would urge you to change your pricing structure as we, as an industry, must demonstrate that the EPC rating is not relevant to the purchasing decision and does not contribute to ‘fuel poverty’.

To ensure that the Scottish Government understands the negative impact that proposed changes in legislation could have on our sector we are asking all our members to contact their local MSP to put the case for treating short term holiday lets differently from the private rental sector. We are also asking for clarity on the existing legislation surrounding EPC certificates as they relate to our sector. If the letter of the law is to be implemented on self-catering properties then members would be required not only to provide an EPC, but to also display their EPC rating in all advertisements whether online or in print and in terms and conditions.

We require clarification and we need all our members to lobby their local MSPs to ensure that they understand the potential for damage that this all-encompassing legislative approach to rented accommodation could have on the Scottish tourism sector.

You will find a list of local MSPs here: http://www.parliament.scot/msps/current-msps.aspx

Our suggested template for an email/letter to your local MSP is as follows:

Dear (insert the name of your local MSP)

I am a member of the Association of Scotland’s Self-Caterers and as such operate short-term holiday lets in (insert your area/location). I am aware that our trade association has responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation on ‘Energy efficiency and condition standards in private rented housing’ arguing for an industry exemption to the need to meet a minimum standard in EPC and affirming that our sector should not be subject to the repairing standards currently being proposed for private landlords. Our industry is very different from that of a private landlord and the variety of accommodation on offer as short-term holiday lets would be hugely restricted if any standardisation was introduced. Our industry would be seriously harmed and we would be at an unfair disadvantage compared to other operators in England and in Europe. Scottish tourism (and therefore the Scottish economy) would also suffer and I ask that you take the time to understand the implications and unintended consequences of all-encompassing legislation on the self-catering short term holiday let sector.

I would further ask for clarification on the current situation regarding EPCs. Previously our sector had been advised that EPCs were NOT required for short-term holiday lets, now we are told that the Scottish Government failed to exempt our industry and we are therefore obliged to provide an EPC for holiday makers. This is simply absurd! There are many reasons why a customer chooses to book a self-catering property. We do not believe the EPC rating is one of them and it is both burdensome and makes no sense for an owner to provide one.

I would like to know why the government did not ask for an exemption for our industry when it had the opportunity to do so, and why for the last 5 years our trade association has been advised by Scottish Government that self-catering properties did NOT require an EPC – and that advice has now been withdrawn.

ASSC’s ‘Self-Catering in Scotland: The Economic Impact of Short-term Letting on the Scottish Economy’ report revealed that visitors staying in traditional self-catering holiday lets spend more than £723 million pounds in the Scottish economy each year and that our sector supports 15,271 full-time equivalent jobs. I am proud to be part of that industry and I look forward to your clarification on the EPC situation as it applies to self-catering and to your commitment and recognition of the importance of our industry to (insert your area/location here).

Kind regards

Name and ASSC member number

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