For many landlords, knowing what exactly performance standards they’re required to provide for their tenants is a bit of a minefield, especially with changing legislation and different rules for commercial and residential properties.
Tenants too should be aware of exactly what the law and efficiency standards require, as well as exactly what is stipulated in their contracts.
Contracted Landlord Energy Obligations
By law there are certain expectations placed on Landlords with regards to energy efficiency, supply and upkeep. The legal responsibilities as set out by the UK government obligate the Landlord to keep your rented properties safe and free from health hazards; make sure all gas and electrical equipment is safely installed and maintained; and provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
Landlord Energy Obligations: Keeping rented properties safe
Recent events at Grenfell tower have brought concerns over insulation and heating measures to the forefront of public discussion, with many now questioning the safety standards of their homes. After the tragedy in London the government commissioned six large-scale tests seeking to establish which types of insulation could be used safely with different types of aluminium cladding. The BBC reported 228 buildings with a similarly dangerous combination of materials.
So what are a landlords obligations with regard to potentially dangerous energy saving measures? Honestly, it’s a bit of a sticky issue. Continuing with the Grenfell-style cladding example, in the social sector the emergency costs of replacing cladding have generally been covered by councils and registered social landlords across the country, however in the private sector the issue has been more contentious. Significant numbers of leaseholders across Britain have been informed by their landlords that they themselves are expected to foot the bill for improvements and fire safety measures. Last week a tribunal judge ruled in favour of the freeholder to enforce residents to pay for interim fire wardens, setting something of a precedent for other in similar situations.
The government is clear on its expectation that any potentially dangerous insulatory or other structural issues should be the responsibility of the freeholder, however in individual cases and contracts the opportunity exists to disregard this entirely.
Our advice to landlords is to ensure that your property is entirely up to standard before leasing. Be aware of your leaseholders safety and the structural hazards within your property.
Landlord Energy Obligations: EPCs and MEES
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legally required document giving a property an energy efficiency rating from A to G. EPCs were introduced in 2007 to help property owners understand their homes’ efficiency and house hunters to choose the best performance property. It’s valid for 10 years but if you don’t already have one then you’ll need to get one before renting out a property.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES) is exactly what it sounds like. MEES states that any properties you put up for lease from 1 April 2018 are required by law to have an EPC of E or above. That covers new leases and lease renewals on all domestic properties. Even long-term leases will have to reach an E by April 2023. Any landlords in possession of a property below that threshold will have to cease letting it after that date or register an exemption.
Although this does put an obligation on landlords to invest both time and money into improving their properties, it also opens up an opportunity to install much more cost efficient solutions, potentially increasing their property value significantly. Solutions such as solid wall insulation can drastically improve the energy efficiency rating of a building while simultaneously giving the entire property a facelift – ideal for those with value-lowering pebbledash houses and unsightly facades.
Enforcement of these regulations will be carried out by councils and local authorities, who will be responsible for determining and enforcement of various penalties. In some areas this is likely to result in a somewhat lax approach to the implementation of the MEES, but in others it may become something of a bureaucratic quagmire.
It should come as no surprise that our solution is to improve your properties sooner rather than later; the earlier you make energy saving changes, the sooner they can start saving energy. A higher EPC will also increase the value of your property and raise your renting prices. It’s a no brainer.
If you’re a landlord wondering about the easiest and cheapest way to bring your property up to standard then get in touch with the contact form below
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