Thousands of Borough Homes Lack Energy Performance Data

Over 4,000 missing certificates for Hammersmith & Fulham properties

Working on improving the energy efficiency of a home
Working on improving the energy efficiency of a home. Picture: Tom Jackson, Tynesight Photography

March 26, 2024

Thousands of homes in Hammersmith and Fulham are missing key energy performance ratings, with campaigners warning the data gaps may mean homes are needlessly leaking heat and the council will miss crucial targets on climate change and fuel poverty. The Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) has found both Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham have no record of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating held by thousands of properties they own, or there’s no record of whether they have had an assessment at all.

Both Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea said they are investing millions in their housing stocks and are surveying homes to understand what improvements are needed. However, EPCs are assigned to properties across the UK indicating how energy efficient they are, and without that data there’s a risk some homes with poor efficiency ratings are going under the radar, leading to higher bills for tenants.

Introduced in 2008, EPCs grade homes from A as the best rating to G as the worst and include tips on how to improve it. All homes due to be rented out or sold are required to get one, and the certificates are valid for a period of 10 years. But those that have had the same occupants since before the law change came in don’t always have an EPC rating.

As well as playing an important part in tackling fuel poverty, they are seen as key in reducing carbon emissions. The data for Hammersmith and Fulham indicates it has 4,472 homes with no EPC rating, against a further 5,224 that are rated B to G. When the data was originally requested earlier this year the number of homes in the borough without a record of their rating stood at 6,976 showing the council is working to address the issue, with ratings for 2,504 homes secured in just a few months.

Data for Kensington and Chelsea, released following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request from the LDRS, revealed that, while it had 5,072 tenanted and leasehold properties rated between B and G, there were another 4,561 for which it had no record. A spokesperson for the council said not all of these homes are necessarily without an EPC rating, but rather that in some cases the council does not know it.

When presented with the data, campaigners have told the LDRS the absence of EPCs for so many homes poses issues not just for those potentially facing fuel poverty – those who cannot afford to keep their homes properly heated – who are currently flying under the radar and so not getting the support they need, but also for net zero commitments.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council has set a target of becoming net zero for carbon by 2030. Given the level of emissions associated with buildings such as homes, it is argued this could pose a problem for the council.

Matt Copeland, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at National Energy Action, said, “The fuel poverty target is for every low income home to reach an Energy Performance Certificate rating of C by the end of 2030. This means certificates play a crucial role in our efforts to end fuel poverty, and ultimately to reach net zero. If local authorities do not understand the energy efficiency of their stock, their ability to work towards fuel poverty and net zero targets are compromised. Local authorities should look to identify the properties without a rating, and seek EPC assessments as soon as possible.”

Matt Copeland, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, National Energy Action
Matt Copeland, Head of Policy and Public Affairs, National Energy Action. Picture: Tom Jackson, Tynesight Photography

Alethea Warrington, Senior Campaigner at climate charity Possible, said, “The UK is filled with leaky and draughty homes that cost more to heat, fail to keep inhabitants warm and healthy, and push up emissions. It’s essential that councils keep track of the energy ratings of social housing, and do everything possible to improve their energy performance, which will help to keep residents’ energy bills under control and cut emissions.

“Given the urgent need to improve the energy efficiency of rented properties, it’s extremely unhelpful that last year the Government axed plans to require rented houses to get up to a decent standard. This will lock the UK into unnecessarily high energy bills and emissions for longer and keep us at arm’s length from our net zero targets.”

Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, leader of the Conservative opposition in Hammersmith and Fulham, said EPCs are important to residents, and that the number of council properties without a rating ‘is yet another shameful indictment’ on the Labour administration.

“When will they wake up to actually caring for council tenants?” she said. “The Ombudsman’s report condemns the Labour council and now the Secretary of State, Michael Gove, has demanded a meeting with the Chief Executive to discuss the council’s unprecedented failures.

“As your local Conservatives we, along with Greg Hands MP, initiated this move and are consistent in our fight for our residents against this clearly shockingly, uncaring and uncompassionate Labour council.”

A Government spokesperson said: “Everyone has the right to a warm, secure and decent home, and we expect landlords to meet our energy efficiency standards before letting properties.

“Almost half of all homes in England now have an EPC rating of C or above, up from just 14 per cent in 2010, and we continue to support households as we move towards net zero, including spending £6.6 billion this Parliament and a further £6 billion to 2028 on making buildings cleaner and warmer.”

A Hammersmith and Fulham spokesperson said much of the information in an EPC is transferable to other properties in the same block, and that not having a rating does not mean the council has no understanding of a home’s energy performance.

They said: “We’re investing £1.4 million a week modernising our homes for local residents. The works include making properties more energy efficient which benefits both our residents with lower bills, and the environment. This forms part of our record £700m 10-year refurbishment programme.

“So far, we have carried out more than 11,000 stock condition surveys and around 3,000 new EPCs on our homes to better understand what further improvements and futureproofing is needed. We will be continuing the survey in the coming months alongside our modernisation works to residents’ homes.”

Ben Lynch - Local Democracy Reporter