How to make your property more energy efficient
From 1 April 2018, private rented properties had to achieve an energy efficiency rating of at least an E on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This new law is part of the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), with further legislation to be introduced over the next 5 years.
The government has also recently consulted on whether it should raise the minimum requirements for properties to an EPC rating of C by 2030. Although this has only been suggested, it’s clear the government is looking at housing to help with its plan to tackle climate change and reduce total carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
All private landlords should understand the new law and get ahead of any further changes. Here, we explain the regulation and outline how to improve the energy efficiency of a property.
What’s an EPC?
If you want to let a residential property, it must have an EPC. Valid for 10 years, this certificate gives more information about the property’s energy usage, typical energy costs and recommendations on how to improve energy consumption.
An EPC will rate a property from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). The regulations state that it’s the landlords responsibility to supply tenants with a valid EPC before they move into a property. If this isn’t done, a landlord won’t be able to serve a Section 21 notice to evict tenants should they need to regain possession.
What are the changes?
From 1 April 2018, if your rental property was rated F or lower, you won’t be able to let or renew a lease. This applies to both commercial and residential property.
At the moment, the law only applies if you’re granting a new tenancy to a new or existing tenant. From 1st April 2020, the regulations will apply to all privately rented property which are required to have an EPC. As with any regulation, the penalties for non-compliance are high, with landlords risking fines of up to £5,000 per property.
Are there any exemptions?
There are some situations where a landlord might qualify for an exemption, these include:
· If a landlord has made all ‘relevant energy efficiency improvements’ but the property still falls below an E rating
· If the cost to a landlord for putting in new insulation and other measures is higher than £3,500
· If the landlord needs consent from the tenants but this is withheld (although this only applies until the tenancy ends, or after 5 years)
· The individual has only recently become the landlord for the property (although this is only valid for 6 months)
If any of the above relate to your property, you must apply to be listed on the PRS Exemptions Register.
How do the improvements work?
You may qualify for assistance via the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) if your tenant is receiving benefits. Under the ECO, medium and larger energy suppliers fund the installation of energy efficiency measures in British households. The current initiative focuses on helping people on lower incomes, considered to be in vulnerable situations or living in fuel poverty. These suppliers work with installers to introduce certain efficiency measures, such as loft or wall insulation, or heating measures.
Although the ECO covers the whole of the UK, the grants and loans available differ according to country. If you’re not sure where to start, the Energy Saving Trust have provided some useful information here. Local authorities also offer initiatives to help with the cost of energy efficiency improvements.
What improvements should I make?
There are a number of things you can do to improve your property’s energy efficiency, including:
· Installing double glazing: secondary glazing is often one of the most effective ways to boost your score; it can add between five and 10 points to your rating.
· Adding insulation: one of the more cost-effective ways to improve your rating as material is so inexpensive.
· Replacing the boiler: a condensing boiler could add as many as 40 points to your property’s score.
· Introducing heating controls: new technology may help your tenants to better control the way they heat the property and save money on bills.
· Changing light bulbs: although this will only make a small different to your overall score, replacing all bulbs for LED ones might just get you the remaining points you need.
Before making any changes, take a look at your EPC rating for advice and consult an expert for more guidance.
Find a local property expert
Energy efficiency is just one of the many areas regulated by government. There are over 145 laws and 400 regulations that need to be followed to legally let a property in England and Wales.
If you’re looking at letting a property and aren’t sure where to start, talk to our expert lettings team in branch today.