I propose to take Questions Nos. 447 and 449 together.
A Building Energy Rating (BER) certificate indicates a building's energy performance, on a scale of A to G. A-rated properties are the most energy efficient, and G-rated properties are the least energy efficient. A higher BER rating can indicate lower energy bills and higher levels of warmth and comfort. A BER is calculated through energy use for space and hot water heating, ventilation and lighting.
Under S.I. No. 243 of 2012 (ENERGY PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS REGULATIONS) any person who is selling or letting a property must “ensure that the energy performance indicator of the current BER certificate for the building is stated in any advertisements, where such advertisements are taken relating to the sale or letting of that building.” The penalty for non-compliance with this regulation is a class A fine of up to €5,000.
There is currently no minimum BER rating that properties in the private rental sector must achieve. However, The Government's Strategy to Combat Energy Poverty 2016-2019, contains an action to examine the impact of introducing minimum thermal efficiency standards for rental properties with a view to introducing such standards post 2020.
Previous research indicated that people living in rented accommodation are twice as likely to live in a home that is E, F or G rated on the Building Energy Rating (BER) scale, and spend €160-€419 per annum more on energy than households in a home rated with a BER of B. However there is currently under-investment in improving the energy performance of rental properties. The typical residential tenancy in Ireland is short and hence tenants do not tend to invest significant sums in the property they are living in. At the same time, landlords under-invest in energy efficiency works as the tenants are the ones who benefit from the consequent energy bill savings and in a constrained rental market there appears to be little value placed on the energy efficiency of a rented property. These diverging incentives mean that energy efficiency investment is much lower in the private rented sector than among homeowners, even though Government grant schemes such as the Better Energy Homes scheme are open to landlords.
In 2015 my Department procured external experts to examine the impact of introducing minimum energy efficiency standards for rented properties for the post 2020 period. These research findings are now being updated with new data from the 2016 census which showed an increase in the number of people renting accommodation across the State. When this is complete my Department will present the findings, with a view to publishing the research and engaging in a full public consultation.