The new rules, collectively titled the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, or MEES for short, are intended to decrease the carbon footprint of all rental properties, reduce the likelihood of people being unable to adequately heat their homes and help improve the overall health of the environment. Under the new rules, you may face a £4,000 fine if you’re found to be in violation.
The first paragraph of the new law, taken from the original text located here, reads as follows:
“The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 establish a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented property in England and Wales. This means that, from April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants. These requirements will then apply to all private rented properties in England and Wales – even where there has been no change in tenancy arrangements – from 1 April 2020 for domestic properties and from 1 April 2023 for non-domestic properties.”
The task of enforcing these new regulations has been assigned to the local authorities.
What Do the New Regulations Entail?
You will be responsible for taking steps to make improvements to your property that will improve its EPC rating. A good place to begin would be to upgrade to more energy-efficient windows, doors and appliances, if possible. Ask the Energy Savings Advice Service for more information. They are familiar with the new standards and can give you plenty of good advice on how you can improve your property’s EPC rating.
How Do I Obtain an EPC Rating for my Property?
If you’re a registered landlord, you will likely have an EPC rating already. Contact the EPC to find out what your rating is or to have another copy of the certificate mailed to you. If you cannot produce this document before marketing your property, you may face penalties including a £200 fine.
If you’re not already a registered landlord, you will need to make an appointment with a competent energy assessor. The EPC Register is a good place to find an energy assessor that serves your general area.
Funding May be Available to Help You Pay for the Upgrades
In order to help landlords with the cost of making the improvements they need, several sources of funding have been created for the purpose of helping you pay for the improvements you need. Green Deal programs are special finance mechanisms for landlords that allow you to apply for home improvement loans. This is a great way to obtain funding for any improvements you need to make.
Green Deal loan repayments are set up to where you can repay the loans by using the money you save on your energy bills. Green Deal repayment plans can even be set up to where the loan is repaid by the tenant, and they will enjoy savings that are potentially equal to or greater than the amount they would have paid without the Green Deal loan.
You Can Also Apply for an Exemption Under Certain Conditions
Under certain circumstances, the law allows you to apply for an exemption. Some of these circumstances include:
- When all possible improvements have been made – If a landlord has made all improvements possible on the property, and the property still cannot obtain the minimum required efficiency rating, or no improvements are possible.
- When no funding can be obtained – If all reasonable efforts to obtain no-cost funding have been exhausted, the landlord can apply for an exemption on these grounds. An onus will be placed on the landlord to submit a self-certified statement explaining why funding could not be obtained, along with documentation stating the same. Acceptable documentation includes:
- A handwritten statement from a Green Deal provider
- A handwritten statement from an energy supplier or the Energy Savings Advice Service
- A handwritten statement from a local authority
All applications for exemptions must be made through the national PRS Exemptions Register. Most exemptions will last around five years. After the five-year period, the exemption expires, and the landlord must try again to have the property approved for rental. For more information on all types of exemptions available and how to qualify for them, consult the guidance document titled “The Domestic Private Rented Property Minimum Standard” Chapter 4 located here.