Yesterday, the Government announced its new 10-point plan for the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’. A key strand of the strategy is that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans will end by 2030, to be replaced by electric and hybrid vehicles. Plug-in vehicles, or EVs, mean a huge requirement for new charging infrastructure and there is £1.3 billion promised to roll out rapid charge points on motorways and major roads and deliver more on-street charging near homes and workplaces.
Good news for the environment, if not for petrol heads. But, as we’ve blogged before, for flat owners it’s not that simple. As landlord and tenant law stands, installing EV charge points can put leaseholders in breach of their lease. Of course with more charging promised in public spaces such as supermarkets and on the street, there are ways around the problem – but it's not a long-term fix and the issue must be tackled.
In communal block car parks, location of charging points and access to shared electricity supplies already poses problems – and greater uptake of EVs will make the situation worse. Pay-as-you-go technology goes some way to tackling issues around charge points tapping into communal electricity supplies but installation is still difficult for leaseholders. Works are likely to be considered an ‘improvement’ and as such may be disallowed under many leases. This is not an insurmountable hurdle. Landlords can be approached for permission and, where necessary, leases altered. But this isn't always possible and making access to EV charging difficult for the five million-plus households in the UK who live in a flat makes no sense.
When approached by one EV charge point installer, the Government response was that once leasehold reform is passed and commonhold becomes standard for blocks of flats, the problem will no longer exist. This is not good enough. In the next few years, easy access to EV charging will become a major issue. It’s time for the government to take a closer look at the complexities of this problem - and act.
The other announcement that came yesterday was that the Green Homes Grant has been so enthusiastically taken up by homeowners and landlords that it is to be extended for another year because there aren’t enough Trustmark qualified builders to get projects completed by the March 2021 deadline.
Funding for the scheme has not been increased, just the timescale but there is clearly an appetite among property owners to embrace improvement work if it is incentivised. This is good news too and indicates the seriousness with which energy efficiency in residential buildings is now being taken. Government now recognises that domestic energy efficiency warrants close attention. The Green Homes Grant won’t solve the problem of carbon emissions from buildings. But it’s a step in the right direction.
Author : Maryanne Bowring
(Weekly, fortnightly or monthly)