New changes to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) will come into effect in two weeks time, giving private rental landlords their final chance to review their properties.
The EPC ratings of all their properties across England and Wales will need to be at E or higher by 1st April in order to avoid repercussions. With a possibility of prosecution and fines of up to £5,000, there is no excuse not to do a thorough check of your buildings. The scale goes from A to G, with G being the least efficient, therefore anything lower than E will be considered lawfully unfit for new lets or the renewal of a tenancy.
Danielle Hughes, solicitor at Kirwans law firm, is stressing the importance of landlords getting their properties sorted. She urges that it is not worth the risk for both landlords and letting agents to miss this deadline, due to local authorities possibly choosing to make examples of those failing to comply.
Both commercial and residential properties are affected by the regulations, with some exemptions applicable. Self-contained flats also fall into this category, as do bedsits in the sense that they are within a property that will have an EPC rating, which must be up to standard.
These new standards are due to also cover domestic and non-properties with pre-existing tenancies as well from 1st April 2020.
Danielle commented: “The introduction of extensive new regulations has made renting out properties a legal minefield for landlords.
“Unfortunately, there’s no escape from these new laws, and both commercial and residential landlords do have to comply or face civil penalty of up to £5,000, along with a criminal record and a compliance notice asking them to bring the property up to the required standard.”
There will be some situations in which exemptions will occur, such as the protection of the historical architecture of a building or monument.
Some cases may bring about temporary exemptions, for example where evidence shows that a commercial property will be devalued more than 5% as a result of the installation of energy efficiency measures.
Danielle has also said: “There is still a limited amount of time for landlords to make the changes needed to meet the requirements, but they’ll need to act fast to avoid being in breach of the legislation. Commercial and residential property agents should discuss MEES with all landlord clients prior to arranging any lease from April 1, 2018.
“Landlords who have not yet done so should urgently explore whether their property is exempt and, if not, what they need to do to ensure their energy efficiency rating reaches the minimum E grade, thereby protecting themselves and their investment for many more years to come.”