4th June 2019
Concentric's Compliance Director Dawn Bennett discusses the MEES issue at one of our recent landlord seminar events:
There’s no getting away from the fact that there have been a lot of changes in legislation in the lettings industry over the past year, not least updates in the law surrounding energy efficiency. This has been quite a big one, because there is currently a huge buzz around the need for us all to be more aware of our environmental impact, from the materials we use every day, to how we reduce the amount of energy in our businesses and in our households.
So let’s take a look at what’s changed, and how we as landlords and agents need to look at energy efficiency within the properties that we rent out, along with the potential hurdles that might present.
MEES – what does it mean?
For the past 10 years, all let properties have been required to provide tenants with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate for their home. You’ll see these also on any electrical appliance you buy, depicted by a colour coded chart along with the details of the efficiency level. It’s meant to give consumers an indication of how energy efficient the product is, so that they can make the decision about their own impact environmentally. In terms of property, things such as insulation, doors and windows, lighting, how the home is heated etc. are taken into account.
As of 1st April 2019, all properties rented out or renewed will be required to have an EPC rated at E or above. If the property currently holds an F or G rating, it is illegal for new or renewed tenancies to be issued.
If you have properties already tenanted, they are currently not required to comply until 1st April 2020, when every rented property will be expected to be at the required standard, and properties which fall at F or G rated will no longer be legal.
Where can I find the current EPC for my property?
An EPC certificate is valid for 10 years from the date of issue, and copies can be obtained for free by searching the EPCregister.com website.
Why is improving the energy efficiency beneficial?
There are numerous reasons why having a higher rating of energy efficiency will be attractive for perspective tenants – not least the cost impact. The average annual cost of a G rated home is £2,860. In comparison, a property rated E is £1,710. So you can see from those statistics that the potential savings in energy costs alone would mean that a property becomes much more attractive in the rental market.
As well as this, people are becoming much more aware of their impact on the environment, and what’s more, are becoming much more savvy. An energy efficient home offers a tenant not only a more comfortable environment which cost less to run, it also means that they can feel a lessened responsibility towards their personal carbon footprint. Many renters now are consciously searching for properties which have better standards of insulation, modern heating and boilers, and even ‘green’ energy options such as solar water heating etc. A property which can promise some of these options is much more attractive, and is likely to give a higher return, and be filled much more quickly.
How can I improve the energy efficiency in my property?
Probably the biggest issue with properties which have a low energy efficiency rating is that of insulation and poor heating. Older properties in particular can be uninsulated, draughty, and poorly lit. In these cases, much improvement and investment might be needed to bring them up to standard, to include things like cavity wall insulation, roof insulation, double glazing, and modern boilers and heating systems. These kinds of improvements are likely to be expensive in many cases, but essential if you expect to rent out a property without falling foul of these new regulations.
Some details of what is included in your particular property can be found on the EPC, and a guide of improvements, although not in great detail, are also included as advisory notes. It may serve as a useful starting point for some landlords.
Things which you might consider are:
Replacement of old or inefficient boilers
Better heating controls, such as thermostats, TRV’s on radiators, boiler programmers
Modern lighting and energy efficient bulbs
Roof insulation, at 270mm depth
Cavity wall insulation
Double glazed windows
Draught Proofing, particularly around doors and windows
Renewables, such as solar panels
Failure to comply
It is the responsibility of the local authority to enforce notice where they believe there to be a breach in compliance. It’s worth noting that notice can be served up to 12 months after the suspected breach, so in the event of the property being sold, it is vital for landlords to hang on to any proof of compliance.
A penalty of up to £5,000 may be served for landlords who fail to comply, or fail to make improvements after the notice period.