If you’re a landlord, or even if you’re home owner who has bought or sold in the last ten years, then it’s likely you’ll be aware of Energy Performance Certificates - EPCs. Much like the stickers you’ll find on a fridge-freezer, or even a car tyre these days, an EPC provides an indication of the current and potential energy efficiency of a property, rated from A+-G, with A+ being the best. But did you know that within the next year, new energy efficiency legislation will come in to force that, if you’re a landlord, you’ll need to not only be aware of, but also compliant of.
Simply, in April 2018 new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come in to force which will mean that a rental property must achieve a minimum “E” rating for all new leases and renewals. It will be illegal to rent a property that does not meet this minimum requirement due to what will be deemed its ‘substandard’ conditions.
It may be easy to think that no-one really takes any notice of EPC ratings, and therefore you needn’t worry yourself too much with this new legislation. However, with Trading Standards able to impose fines of up to £4,000, now is the time to do your homework and ensure the properties within your portfolio make the grade. If your property currently has a rating of F or G, you will need to make some improvements to ensure you can continue to rent it legally. It doesn’t matter if the tenant has been there for 1 year or 10, it will be illegal to continue to rent the property, so ensure that the EPC rating is above E before the cut off in April.
The first step to take, of course, is to ensure that your properties have valid and up to date EPCs in place. Going through the necessary expert assessment will allow a new EPC to reflect any recent improvements which you’ve made, as well as highlight any improvements that can be made. EPC’s were introduced in 2007 and are valid for 10 years, so it is worth double checking if you have them, that they are still valid.
It’s worth remembering too that these improvements don’t need to be terribly onerous or difficult to carry out. One of the major causes of heat loss in a residential building is through doors and windows with insufficient seals so replacing these can help to eliminate any drafts, whilst adding additional insulation to loft areas can help reduce heat loss through roofs. Don’t forget too that low energy LED bulbs can often be installed in to existing sockets.
Cavity wall insulation and replacement windows are other options, although both are arguably more disruptive unless you plan on carrying out a wider scheme of improvements. If this is the case, then you may also consider an upgrade to a more energy efficient boiler or the installation of a smart meter.
Something to remember, however, is that even if you’re not a landlord but are planning to sell your property to an investor who will rent it out then the EPC rating will still need to make the minimum “E” grade. Where the responsibility in this situation lies is naturally a grey area, but ensuring a property is as energy efficient as it possibly can be is no bad thing and will help to improve its overall saleability.
So how do you get one? Most energy providers will offer you an EPC, and they can cost anywhere from £60-£140. It is irrelevant whether you have a “gold standard” EPC, as long as it’s valid so no need to spend extra cash.
If you have queries relating to how you can make your property as energy efficient as possible, then the team at your local Andrews branch will be happy to help and advise you.