All privately rented homes in Scotland would have to meet a minimum standard of energy efficiency, under Scottish Government proposals just published for consultation.

It would mean that all properties in the sector would require a minimum energy performance certificate rating of level E at a change in tenancy after 1 April 2019, and in any event by 31 March 2022 – and of level D on a change of tenancy after 1 April 2022, and in any event by 31 March 2025. Views are also sought on whether the standard should go beyond level D at some point.

The private rented sector currently accounts for 14% of households in Scotland. Around 28% of such properties currently have the lowest energy efficiency ratings of E, F and G, compared to 22% in the owner occupied sector and 10% in the social housing sector.

Ministers intend to use the new standards to improve the quality and standard of housing for private sector tenants and support measures to tackle fuel poverty. The paper points out that loans are available under Government schemes to help landlords and tenants install a variety of energy efficient measures.

Exceptions to the rules would apply to ensure that measures are only installed when they are technically feasible and not excessively costly.

Landlords would have six months from the point of assessment to improve their properties. An owner who fails to comply with the standard would be subject to a civil fine.

The consultation further reveals proposed changes to the repairing standard, relating to the safety standards and physical condition expected of properties, to bring the private rented sector closer to the standard required in social rented housing. Agricultural tenancies and some holiday lets could also be brought within the standard.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart commented: “It is only fair that tenants who rent privately have access to good quality and energy efficient homes.

“Minimum standards have a key role to play in driving improvement. While most private landlords are delivering homes to modern, highly energy efficient standards, we must recognise that there are also tenants living in some of the least energy efficient homes in Scotland. These people face higher energy bills and are at greater risk of being pushed into fuel poverty.

“This consultation sets out a series of proposals which aims to balance the need to make homes more energy efficient, whilst maintaining a successful private rented sector as a housing option for many thousands of households.”

He added: “We want this consultation to facilitate a discussion with landlords, tenants and other interested parties and we will listen carefully to views as the consultation progresses. We see this as the next step in the journey towards delivering our ambition to eradicating poor energy efficiency as a cause of fuel poverty.”

A separate consultation will take place during winter 2017-18 on proposals to increase the energy efficiency of owner-occupier housing, including seeking views on the use of minimum standards and incentives.

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for submissions is 30 June 2017.