Private rental landlords have just two weeks to make sure their residential and commercial properties meet the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) – or face prosecution and fines of up to £5,000.
Danielle Hughes, solicitor at Kirwans law firm, is urging landlords and letting agents not to take any risks when it comes to hitting the deadline, as local authorities may choose to make examples of those failing to comply.
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, due to come into force on April 1, will make it unlawful for landlords to agree new lets or the renewal of tenancies for properties that have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or below.
On the energy efficiency rating scale of A to G, G is the least efficient.
The regulations apply to both commercial and residential properties, unless one of the applicable exemptions can be established.
Self-contained flats are also subject to the new laws, and while bedsits don’t require an individual EPC, if the bedsit is within a property that already has one then it can only be rented out if regulations have been adhered to.
From April 1, 2020, the new standards will also cover domestic and non-properties with pre-existing tenancies.
Danielle said: “The introduction of extensive new regulations has made renting out properties a legal minefield for landlords.
“Unfortunately, there’s no escape from these new laws, and both commercial and residential landlords do have to comply or face a civil penalty of up to £5,000, along with a criminal record and a compliance notice asking them to bring the property up to the required standard.”
There are some exemptions from the new legislation, including buildings and monuments officially protected because of their special architectural historical merit, and residential buildings used for less than four months of the year.
Temporary exemptions may also apply in other cases, such as where evidence shows that a commercial property will be devalued by more than 5% as a result of the installation of energy efficiency measures.
Danielle said: “There is still a limited amount of time for landlords to make the changes needed to meet the requirements, but they’ll need to act fast to avoid being in breach of the legislation.
Commercial and residential property agents should discuss MEES with all landlord clients prior to arranging any lease from April 1, 2018.
“Landlords who have not yet done so should urgently explore whether their property is exempt and, if not, what they need to do to ensure their energy efficiency rating reaches the minimum ‘E’ grade, thereby protecting themselves and their investment for many more years to come.”