Landlords in England and Wales urged to check energy ratings ahead of 2018 change

Landlords in England and Wales are being reminded than in just under a year it will be illegal to rent a property in the private rented sector that does not meet a minimum energy rating.

From the 01 April 2018 new lets and tenancy renewals must have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and the new rule will come into force for all existing tenancies on 01 April 2020.

Landlords who do not comply an get their properties up to the minimum rating will find their property deemed to be substandard and not fit to rent with Trading Standards able to impose a fine of up to £4,000.

Landlords are being encouraged to make sure their properties comply with the energy performance regulations now rather than waiting until the last minute.

‘I have serious concerns that many landlords may be completely unaware that their properties could fall below the new minimum legal requirements for energy efficiency standards in England and Wales,’ said Danielle Hughes, a solicitor at law firm Kirwans.

She pointed out that some properties may only need a couple of tweaks to bring them in line, while others may require substantial works. ‘Landlords have to balance this work against the risk of them being in breach of the legislation and facing a criminal conviction and penalty fine,’ she explained.

‘Planning now will also have the obvious benefits of spreading the cost and making sure that the relevant third party contractors are available to undertake any necessary work. before scheduling a visit from a domestic energy assessor, landlords should spend some time looking at the different methods of improving their property’s energy efficiency rating and chose which is right for them,’ she added.

According to Steven Room, head of residential development at property management firm Lee Baron, the first step is to ensure properties have a valid and up to date EPCs that take account of any changes and improvements made to a building. ‘Once poor performing buildings are identified, landlords can improve their rating through a few energy efficiency measures if not already put in place,’ he said.

‘Once landlords have their properties assessed, they can schedule in boosting energy efficiency to coincide with any maintenance and redecoration work at the end of the tenancy. Although there is cost and effort involved, energy efficient properties will have greater appeal to investors and this will reflect in improved values,’ he added.

The firm advises most of a building’s heat is lost through poor sealing of doors and windows and through poor insulation in the roof and walls so checking and renewing or adding new window and door seals can eliminate drafts, while insulation, if missing in attics can be installed or existing insulation thickened to reduce heat loss from roofs.

Other issues to look at include cavity wall insulation, although this can be disruptive to install, installing low energy lighting, a modern compact combi boiler which is considerably more energy efficient and a smart meter which results in more accurate measuring of energy usage.

There are a number of exemptions, which include buildings officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural historical merit, temporary buildings with a planned timed use of two years or less, residential buildings which are intended to be used less than four months of the year, and standalone buildings with a total usable floor area of less than 50 square metres.