The UK Government has committed to reaching net zero by 2050 — to achieve this goal, all new flat lettings in England and Wales will need to be EPC-rated C in less than three years (and all current rentals that renew will be similarly affected by 2028). Major changes will be necessary to reach these challenging standards, but restrictive leases and limitations on service charges are preventing Block Managers from getting ahead.
Leaseholders often need help to understand how more energy-efficient systems can benefit them. You can drive engagement and give yourself the mandate to make vital changes by communicating more effectively and working with the people in your block. Need help figuring out where to start? Here's everything you need to know.
What you could gain from more efficient alternatives
Energy efficiency is vital to the longevity of your building. Properties in England will need to achieve an EPC rating of C or above by 2050 or leave landlords vulnerable to fines of up to £5,000. As a block manager, you are not liable for the EPC rating of your block — however, the responsibility of making changes may still end up on your doorstep.
The challenge block managers face is the restrictive nature of leases and the limits on what is covered by the service charge. There are things you can do now, but there are limits to what flat owners can do themselves, and there may be additional requirements to perform communal works. That's why it's essential to work together if you really want to improve the energy efficiency of the block you manage.
How your leaseholders benefit from more efficient alternatives
Simple improvements to existing communal heat network systems, such as better pipe insulation and more sophisticated boiler controls, can help leaseholders and residents in more ways than one. Making your systems more efficient will mean they require less energy, resulting in an immediate drop in the cost of people's energy bills. The service charge will also be reduced, and these improvements will make your block cheaper to run and less likely to need expensive repairs.
Installing new energy-efficient technologies will also improve the value of people's homes. Assets such as insulation, heat pumps and solar panels will become increasingly attractive to prospective buyers who are looking for up-to-date properties that are sustainable and cost-effective to own.
With leaseholder support, landlords will be more likely to make improvements to the block you manage, including installing new energy-efficient systems. Communicating and engaging with your residents now is an excellent way of ensuring their "buy-in" when the time comes to make more significant changes to the building.
How can leaseholders and residents start making changes?
Get in touch with the landlord
If residents are looking for major changes to be made in your block, they will have to contact the landlord. The flat owner will be held responsible when the minimum EPC rating changes in 2025, and therefore, these changes stand to benefit everyone involved.
Encourage residents to write to the individual or organisation that owns the property and express their desire for more environmentally friendly alternatives. Whenever possible, communicate with them the benefits of more sustainable systems, and foster their support for major changes to the block.
Bring neighbours together
Spreading the word about sustainable alternatives throughout your block can help encourage real change. For instance, if the boilers are old and inefficient, you could arrange a meeting with leaseholders to discuss the benefits of more up-to-date control mechanisms. Instead of a simple thermostat and timer on the communal boiler, your residents can opt for return temperature controls and usage monitoring technology, meaning they will only pay for the energy they actually use. This is a great way to reward careful consumers and drives engagement between you and your residents.
If you want to be really persuasive, look at how much they are spending and show residents the numbers. Even if there is no communal heating, it still doesn't hurt to help people with their own bills. Encourage smart meters, radiator care (bleeding, flushing and balancing), and modern heating control systems. Additional improvements such as Hive systems may take a few years to pay off, but with these additions, your residents will see energy bills go down immediately, making it the smartest move in the long term.
We're here for block managers too...
Our software can help keep the systems throughout your block running at their most efficient so that you can provide leaseholders with the highest possible quality of service. Looking to improve your energy efficiency? Check out our latest EPC guide from Executive Chair of the Property Institute, Nigel Glen.