Buy-to-let landlords with existing tenancies on properties rented out in the private rented sector are being reminded to take note of the next deadline that relates to the energy performance of the building.
In April 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) came into force in England and Wales, which required buy-to-let landlords to meet new MEES with a minimum rating of E, with a view to encouraging landlords and property owners to improve the energy efficiency of their properties by a restriction on the granting and continuation of existing tenancies where the property has an Energy Performance Certificate Rating of F and G.
But while 2018 heralded an initial change in the rules regarding energy efficiency standards, the bigger picture will see regulations that affect all rental properties, irrespective of the length of tenancy, in April 2020, when it will become unlawful to rent any property that has an existing or continuing tenancy that fails to meet the minimum required energy rating.
Specialist buy-to-let broker Commercial Trust Limited, which can help landlords finance the required renovations to meet the new EPC ratings, points out that any landlord failing to comply with the new efficiency test criteria could incur a fine of up to £5,000.
There was a worrying lack of awareness regarding new MEES just days before the new rules were introduced in April.
To help landlords take action to improve the energy efficiency of their properties, the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy issued a guidance document on compliance with the 2018 ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’ standard, in accordance with the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.
The documents provide guidance and advice on:
+ Scope of the regulations: the steps a landlord should take to determine whether their property is covered by the regulations, and the steps they should take to ensure their property complies with the minimum level of energy efficiency;
+ Relevant improvements: how a landlord can identify appropriate energy efficiency improvements for their property;
+ No-upfront Cost Funding (domestic only): how a landlord can investigate availability of no-cost funding to cover the cost of improving a domestic property;
+ Cost effectiveness (non-domestic only): how a landlord can determine whether particular improvements would be cost effective to install in a non-domestic property;
+ Exemptions and exclusions: the exemptions framework and the steps a landlord should take to register a valid exemption;
+ Enforcement: the enforcement framework and the options open to enforcement authorities when policing compliance with the minimum standards, including information on fines and other penalty options;
+ The appeals framework: landlord appeals will be heard by the First-tier Tribunal, part of the court system administered by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service; the guidance discusses the steps a landlord will need to take to lodge an appeal, and how that process will be managed.