In 2014, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVP) launched research on energy poverty in Ireland which found that the inability of people to afford adequate household warmth is caused by various factors, including inadequate income and living in rented homes with poor energy efficiency.
The research showed that while improved energy efficiency would not take those families with inadequate incomes out of poverty, it would make a big difference to their budget, the comfort levels in their homes, and enhance their health and wellbeing. Armed with this knowledge, SVP sought to establish what legal measures, if any, supported and promoted energy efficiency in Ireland.
PILA identified the need to map current legislation, drawing together the relevant resources before seeking pro bono assistance from the legal team at McDowell Purcell. PILA then guided the group in preparing a research report on the law in relation to energy efficiency in private rental accommodation in Ireland. The report was also peer reviewed by Brendan Hennessy BL.
The report found that no specific provision is currently made in legislation for the rating of energy efficiency of private rental accommodation in Ireland. While a number of physical standards for rental accommodation have been introduced since 1992, these do not apply retrospectively and do not specifically promote energy efficiency.
The study recognised that under the Government’s Construction 2020 programme, a working group exists which will investigate the feasibility of introducing minimum thermal efficiency standards for rental properties. Such standards for rental properties if introduced would serve to reduce energy poverty, improve health and minimise emissions from the private rented sector.
SVP now has a solid basis on which to advocate for better rental standards.