Getting registered on the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) exemption list is going to be top of many landlords To-Do list now that the new standards have come into effect, but finding any information on how exactly to go about it seems to be nearly impossible. That’s why we sat down with a room of experts to grill them on exactly how exemptions are defined and applied for.
This article is focused on domestic properties. Non-domestic and commercial properties have slightly different rules and the enforcement schedule is somewhat different; the article for commercial properties will be out in the next few days.
Can I get on the MEES exemption register?
The MEES state that any rented property must have an EPC rating of at a least an E or above. As set out in the MEES regulations, there are several ways to qualify for the exemption register. In the documentation these are split up into the following:
- 4.1.1 Where all the ‘relevant energy efficiency improvements’ for the property have been
- 4.1.2 Where a measure cannot be wholly financed at no cost to the landlord
- 4.1.3 Wall insulation exemption
- 4.1.4 Third party consent exemption
- 4.1.5 Property devaluation exemption
- 4.1.6 Temporary exemption due to recently becoming a landlord
Some of the points here are pretty straightforward, others are vague and unhelpful. You’ll notice that’s a bit of a pattern with MEES.
Where all the ‘relevant energy efficiency improvements’ for the property have been made
If you’ve done everything you can to improve the efficiency of the property and it still doesn’t come up to standard (which would be highly unlikely), then you can become exempt from the regulations. The improvements you’d need to complete before qualifying for this is whatever is listed in your EPC report under ‘recommendations’.
Where a measure cannot be wholly financed at no cost to the landlord
For the majority of landlords hoping to get on the exemption register, the regulations boil down to this one central fact; you can only be exempt from MEES if you can prove that there is no available funding to get the energy rating improved.
At the moment, landlords are not obligated to spend any of their own money to make improvements to reach the minimum efficiency. They are, however, required to pursue any available funding schemes. This means that to get an exemption on financial grounds, you must provide proof that the property is not eligible for Energy Company Obligation (ECO) grants or funding under the Green Deal. Evidence that ECO is unavailable should be fairly straightforward to provide, especially if the place is unoccupied. You’ll need a Green Deal assessment carried out, regardless of occupancy. Fill out the form below if you’re interested in getting a Green Deal assessment done on your property.
It’s worth noting that this ‘no cost to the landlord’ policy is set to change. Dramatically. From April next year the landlord will be obligated to fork out a maximum of £2,500 per year for improvements to be made to bring the EPC rating up to scratch.
Wall insulation exemption
You can avoid the costs involved in getting wall insulation (external wall insulation, internal wall insulation, or cavity wall insulation) if you have formal confirmation that it would be inappropriate for the property. For example, if you have cracked or poorly maintained walls then external wall insulation is going to be a terrible idea. Alternatively, some councils require you to have planning permission for these types of measures; if this is true then you are not obligated to carry out the work, even if you have funding options.
Third party consent exemption
This one is definitely a bit of a grey area – in the legislation is actually says “it is not practical to provide an exhaustive list of all situations where third party consent will apply”, which is a not very subtle way of saying that there are no set rules. The gist of the point though is that if you can’t get access to the property, or if the tenant refuses to allow the work to be done, then you can register as an exemption that way. For example, if MEES requires that you replace the heating system in a flat rented by an elderly couple, they could put it in writing that they did not want the upheaval of workmen coming in to their home. This could be submitted as evidence.
Of course if the tenant is being particularly unhelpful, acquiring the necessary evidence that consent is being withheld could be difficult. Some landlords and letting agents are now updating future contracts to contain a clause obligating the tenant to provide a signed document on request if they choose to refuse entry to the property. It’s certainly something to consider for new leases on properties that are likely to need ungraded energy efficiency in the near future.
Property devaluation exemption
Finally, something uncomplicated. If the work required to get you up to spec will cause the property to lose more than 5% of its value, you can register a MEES exemption. You need this confirmed by an independent survey carried out by someone on the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors register of valuers – you can find it here.
Temporary exemption due to recently becoming a landlord
This effectively means that if you suddenly or unexpectedly become a landlord, you have 6 months to get the work done before you’re in breach of MEES. The paperwork gives half a dozen scenarios in which this would be applicable, the most common of which is going to inheriting ownership of a leased property. However if you feel that you may qualify for this leniency period for any other reason then it may be worth looking into it.
If you have any questions or enquiries about MEES or how to get on the MEES exemption register, please fill out the form below and one of our experts will be in touch.