29 February 2024 Energy Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Social Housing

Why UK landlords must now work with accredited Safe Isolation Providers (SIPs) for their low-carbon housing retrofits

A heat pump installed in the back garden of a UK home

In the quest to achieve greater sustainability and energy efficiency, landlords in the UK are increasingly turning to low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps, solar panels, battery storage, and EV chargepoints to upgrade or retrofit their existing housing portfolios.

While the social and environmental drivers for these energy efficiency upgrades are by now abundantly clear, regulatory obligations today also reflect this growing imperative for both public and private property managers.

However, ensuring the safe installation of these technologies requires collaboration with accredited Safe Isolation Providers (SIPs).

Since June 2023, new legislation mandates that any organisation requiring electrical isolation works at their premises (a necessity for the installation of new electrical appliances and renewable energy equipment) must engage with registered Safe Isolation Providers.

This article outlines why this collaboration is essential for public and private housing landlords to remain compliant with new legislation.

What are the energy efficiency obligations for UK landlords?

For public landlords, such as local authorities and housing associations, Government has set out that all social housing in England and Wales must reach an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C or above by 2030. The Scottish Government’s Energy Efficiency Standard for Social Housing, meanwhile, has set a target for all homes to reach an EPC B rating by the end of December 2035.

For private landlords, the Government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) means that any privately-rented domestic or non-domestic property must now meet a minimum EPC rating of E. It means that landlords can no longer let or continue to let properties that fail to meet this minimum standard, unless they have a valid exemption in place.

The onus has therefore fallen firmly on landlords (both public and private) to improve the energy efficiency of their property portfolios, with the installation of low-carbon technologies such as solar panel, battery storage, heat pumps and EV chargepoints, providing not only the opportunity to meet legislation, but also substantially increase the value of their assets.

What is a Safe Isolation Provider?

A Safe Isolation Provider (SIP) is an accredited Meter Equipment Manager (MEM) authorised by the Retail Energy Code to carry out safe electrical isolation works. This involves de-energising and re-energising the meter point to facilitate safe working on a customer’s electrical equipment, such as low-carbon tech, within their property.

The significance of new SIP regulations

The introduction of regulations by Ofgem in 2023 mandates that only registered SIPs can legally undertake electrical isolation works at residential and commercial premises in the UK. While initially seeming restrictive, these regulations actually empower customers by allowing them to choose their preferred MEM for isolation works.

The benefits for property managers

For organisations managing portfolios of properties served by multiple energy suppliers, the ability to choose a single SIP streamlines the process significantly. Previously, coordinating isolation works across multiple properties required engaging various parties, leading to logistical challenges and potential delays. Now, property managers can partner directly with SIPs like SMS plc, which offers an end-to-end service, including scheduling, communication, tenant liaison, and safe isolation works.

Importance of safe isolation works for low-carbon retrofits

This collaboration is particularly crucial for Housing Associations, Local Authorities, and Landlords planning to upgrade their estates with low- and zero-carbon technologies. Technologies like EV charge points, solar panels, battery storage, and heat pumps not only demand trusted electrical contractors and strategic carbon-reduction advisors but also require safe electrical isolation to enable installations.

Who can install isolator switches?

While isolator switches can be installed by qualified electricians, legal de-energisation and re-energisation of the meter point are prerequisites. This can only be performed by registered Safe Isolation Providers. Consequently, more customers are choosing to work with SIPs like SMS plc, which are also accredited electrical contractors.

The SMS advantage

SMS stands out as one of the few SIPs offering a comprehensive end-to-end service for safe electrical isolation procedures and isolator switch installations. With almost 30 years of industry expertise, nationwide coverage, and dedicated project management, SMS ensures efficiency, safety, and compliance throughout the process.

In the era of sustainability and low-carbon transitions, property managers must prioritise safety and compliance when upgrading their portfolios with advanced technologies. Partnering with accredited Safe Isolation Providers not only ensures regulatory compliance but also streamlines the process, enhances efficiency, and provides peace of mind for property managers and tenants alike.

Get in touch

Our expert utility consultants and engineering team are on hand to discuss safe electrical isolation works as part of your low-carbon retrofit plans. Just leave your contact details to arrange a call back, and we’ll be in touch!