Oxford City Council has taken on new powers to improve the energy efficiency standards of commercial and rental properties across the city.

Powers previously held by the Oxfordshire County Council to enforce Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) in the private rented sector and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in commercial properties have now been delegated to the Council.

This comes after Oxford was chosen by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as one of six pilot areas to enforce the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards that became law in April 2018. The decision came with a grant of £150,000 awarded in 2019.

These standards require landlords to have an Energy Performance Certificate which measures and shows tenants the energy efficiency of a property. The certificate grades properties from A to G, with the lowest rating allowed being an E – properties with a rating of F or G cannot legally be rented out. The average energy efficiency rating in England and Wales is currently a D. Currently only 60% of Oxford’s approximately 20,000 privately rented homes have EPCs, representing a potential violation of current energy laws in 8,000 properties.

The power to enforce these standards, previously split between Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford City Council, will now be delegated to the City Council. Previously, the City Council had merely been informing businesses of their responsibility to comply with standards, with enforcement carried out by the County Council.

In a press release, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Housing and Councillor Linda Smith said she was “delighted” by the delegation of powers, and that the move would help “work to reduce our carbon emissions and tackle the climate emergency.” Buildings currently represent 81% of Oxford’s total carbon emissions.