MEES - What are the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards?
The first thought you may have as a landlord will probably be ‘I’ve never heard of this’ or ‘something else that probably doesn’t apply to me!’ Unfortunately there is a big problem within the private rented sector surrounding new legislation. I believe this is mainly down to lack of policing and the fact that a lot of private landlords tend to drift under the radar, ignore it completely or (more commonly) not understand the requirements and make the assumption it probably doesn’t apply to them.
The MEES are the follow on legislation from the introduction of the Energy Performance Certificate regulations (2008). The new regulation comes in force on the 1st April 2018 and from this date ANY residential property that will have a new tenancy created or a current tenancy renewed will be subject to having a minimum energy efficiency rating of E. Any properties with a rating of F or G will be outside the legal limit and no new tenancy will be allowed. The legislation only applies to new or renewed tenancies not continuing periodic tenancies first of all, but it is something that needs forward planning. You do not want to be caught with your pants down when a tenant decides to give notice and then lots of work is needed and time is lost with an empty property whilst you plan and investigate everything.
Now, before you read any further you should check whether you either
a) Have an EPC rating above an E or
b) Have an EPC at all.
Anyone can check the national register at www.epcregister.com. Just click to search by address and pop the property postcode in. If your property has one it will be listed and you can download and check it, if your property doesn’t have one then it won’t be listed.
A side note - For a property to have an F or G Rating it must have pretty poor or no heating and/or insulation or it could be an old detached dwelling with larger heat loss walls and another is rural dwellings which are generally solid brick with little or no insulation and either oil or solid fuel heating.
Rating Identification - Once you have identified that your rating is an F or G you can look further down the certificate and it will show you recommendations or measures that will bring your rating up. Be careful though as some might not be enough in their own right and you might need to install two or more measures to bring the rating up enough. For the best advice contact me or another energy assessor and we will look at your certificate and advise accordingly. If you don’t even have an EPC on the property you better check your tenancy didn’t start after 2008 otherwise you are not legally compliant! Contact me and I can do an assessment which we can then look at and I can advise on improvements.
Installing Measures - You have now identified you need to improve your property and what you need to do. The three options you have are –
1) To contact installers and pay for these out of your own pocket.
2) Find out if there are any grants available for the work (generally only if your tenant is in receipt of certain benefits).
3) Or go for green deal funding for the work.
Breaking these down -
The scheme was designed to give landlords the ability to get their rental property significantly improved with energy saving measures with no direct cost. The basic idea works that the current EPC is compared to one on the basis the improvements were implemented and the cost for the work is added to the electric bill on the property (being paid for by the tenant) the only ‘golden rule’ was that the savings on the bills must outweigh the cost of the work spread over a monthly payment period of 7 years. This is still in operation but is not publicised as heavily as it was at the start. You can find companies working with this at https://www.gov.uk/green-deal-energy-saving-measures this is the most financially beneficial way of getting the property improved but does have its pitfalls. Mainly that you choose the installers but as you are not paying their bill at the end you maybe don’t have the control over the quality of the work as you would do if you could with-hold a payment if the work was under par. Do your homework and check the companies in advance before you commit. You can find Green Deal Approved contractors at http://gdorb.decc.gov.uk/consumersearch and they will provide you with the required reports and assessments.
I could continue for pages and pages, and to be honest, if you have read this far then well done! It is not a subject that can be written about in a few words.
Ultimately this is something you need to make sure you comply with. I am sure there will be Landlords that will ignore these regulations and continue starting new tenancies but be warned anyone who does will be breaking the Law and could end up having bigger and more expensive issues down the line.
If you want more information, want to pick my brains on anything I have briefly covered, want further advice or want me to come and assess your property I am more than happy to help so just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me on 01502 509190. Thanks for reading this far and make sure you keep plugging away with your rentals! They are a good investment no matter what the government throws at us!