Well that was nerve wracking! The Future Climate team, along with TLT Solicitors, Westminster City Council and The University of Oxford, with support from Jenny Holland put a pitch for our proposals on leasehold reform into the Sustainable Homes SHIFT awards best policy proposal Dragon’s Den.
You can read a longer version of our work and the policy proposals here, but in summary, we’ve come up with a simple law change that would increase the rate of energy efficiency refurbishments in flats. The terms of leases can often prevent necessary energy efficiency improvements going ahead. That might be because the lease terms make it difficult for a freeholder (building owner) to share the costs of whole building insulation improvements with individual flat owners. Or it might be because the lease terms prevent a flat owner to make any sort of improvement inside their flat – even when that’s important insulation upgrades or heating system changes.
Our proposed reform would see a simple change to leasehold law to allow landlords and leaseholders to improve basic energy efficiency whatever leases say.
After getting through a pre-assessment panel, thanks to a whizzy PowerPoint summary, we made it to the final three pitches, to present live on the afternoon of the awards. Getting the finer points of the problem, our work to date and the detail of our reform proposals across in just two minutes was a challenge, but with just three slides, we managed. Using smartphones as voting consoles it was then over to the audience, made up largely of housing professionals to vote on the three different ideas.
This was fantastic news, for all of those involved, but also because it will help us to take the campaign forward, knowing we have a growing body of support behind us. We tried, ultimately unsuccessfully, to have our reforms taken forward through the Parliamentary Private Members Ballot earlier in 2016, but with renewed support, will now look for other routes to have our proposals adopted and to hopefully unlock additional energy saving opportunities in the housing sector.
Our thanks go out to Texo Drone for sponsoring the Dragon’s Den, to everyone who was at the event and voted for us, to the Sustainable Homes team for a great event and for the conversations about what we can do together next, to ALEO, SE-2, Energy for London, Right2Fuel Campaign and others who helped us try and have the proposals adopted.