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Landlords – are you ready for the new energy efficiency standards?

Linda Chapman Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate Staff Portraits - Griffith Smith LLP

28th February 2018

The clock is ticking. Landlords have until 1st April 2018 to make sure their rental stock meets the new minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) or face fines of up to £150,000.

The standards apply to both residential and commercial private rented buildings in England and Wales. Since their inception, landlords have been warned not to be complacent about safeguarding their properties. Apart from a hefty fine, the risk of having a portfolio of properties that doesn’t meet the new requirements is serious – lost revenue while the improvements are made and the impact of negative PR.

The looming deadline brings the reasons behind the new standards into focus. Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) were largely dismissed as an administrative burden and the recommendations ignored in the past, but we can’t ignore the fact that buildings account for more than a third of our greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. The regulations should be seen as an welcome opportunity to improve the UK’s housing stock for generations to come while tackling air pollution in the short term.  It’s a win-win situation rather than a regulatory burden that might be avoided.

What are the regulations?

The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 state that from 1st April 2018, it will become unlawful to let or renew the lease of a property that has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of less than E unless one of the exemptions set out by the legislation applies.

Since the introduction of EPCs in 2007 the standard for achieving an E grade has changed. So a property considered to have reached an E rating then doesn’t necessarily still conform to the standards. Landlords should check that EPCs are valid and up-to-date and take account of any changes and improvements made to a property.

There are 3 stages to the new standards, each affecting different types of properties:

  • 1st April 2018 – new lettings and renewals of domestic and non-domestic properties.
  • 1st April 2020  – existing privately rented residential properties including those where there’s a current tenancy agreement in place.
  • 1st April 2023 – all existing privately rented commercial properties, including those occupied under the terms of a current lease.

Are there any exemptions?

Some types of properties may be exempt (buildings that protected as part of designated environment, for example) but such exemptions are not granted automatically. All are subject to review and time constraint, so the best advice is, take action now on making improvements and don’t rely on an exemption that may only postpone the inevitable.

How can you improve the EPC rating?

The fixes to ensure an E rating are not necessarily complex and costly. They are likely to increase the value of the property, make for better relationships with tenants and help tenants reduce their energy bills – all good marketing tools.

As most of a building’s heat is lost through poor insulation, this is the first area to check. Door and window seals and better insulation material in the roof cavity are fairly simple to do. Cavity wall insulation may be more disruptive and costly, but can make a big difference to a building’s EPC.

An even simpler fix is using low energy lighting. And installing a smart meter – many energy companies will do this for free – makes it easier for landlords to manage the energy efficiency of the building.

Need help?

We can help advise you on the new minimum energy efficiency standards. Please give the team a call on 01273 324041. In the meantime, further information can be found at

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