New regulations for improving energy efficiency

Steed & Steed LLP Partner Sarah-Jane Money reviews the new regulations that come into force on 1st April 2018

Posted: December 28, 2017

Improving energy efficiency

As from the 1st April 2018 energy efficiency improvements are compulsory. In short all rented properties in the private sector will normally require a minimum energy performance rating of E or above on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The new rules will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies from 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent out a property which fails to meet the minimum requirement. Steps to improve a property to this standard may require some or any of the following:

    • Replace old Boilers with new
    • Replace old storage heaters with new fan assisted models
    • Introduce thermostats to regulate hot water cylinders, radiators and suchlike
    • Introduce water saving shower heads
    • Replace traditional lightbulbs with new LED lightbulbs.

More radical improvements may also be required:

    • Internal and external wall and flooring insulation
    • Providing new services such as gas.

The above list which is not exhaustive outlines just some of the measures a landlord may need to take.

A Civil Penalty of a fine of up to £4000 can be imposed for breaches. There are exemptions applicable and it is possible to seek Local Authority exemption. The exemptions are complicated and broadly are as follows:

  1. The regulations will apply only to buildings where there is an existing EPC.
  2. Lettings under six months subject to a maximum of only two such lettings to the same tenant.
  3. Leases of more than 99 years.
  4. Lettings where the landlord cannot obtain the consent for work required such as:
    • Planning or building regulations consent
    • Consent from the superior landlord or lenders
    • Sitting tenants refuse access
  5. Where works would majorly damage the capital value of the property.
  6. Subject to the landlord obtaining three Green Deal assessments showing the work does not qualify for works which satisfy the Golden Rule under the Green Deal.
  7. Where EPC regulations exempt the landlord from providing an EPC.

All such exemptions must be registered with the PRS Exemptions Register and the Local Authority will require evidence to support any exemption registration. Exemptions last only five years.

There are of course exclusions from the scope of requirements:

  1. Buildings and Monuments officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural and historic merit. Details regarding Listed Buildings appear lower down in this article.
  2. Temporary buildings with a planned use of 2 years or less.
  3. Residential buildings which are intended to be used less than 4 months of the year.
  4. Stand-alone buildings of less than 50 square meters.

The extent of the exclusions of Listed Buildings remains a little unclear: similarly buildings within a conservation area. The regulations state that exclusion is “Insofar as compliance with certain minimum energy efficiency requirements which would unacceptably alter their character or appearance”.

If a Listed Building in a conservation area does not have an EPC then the regulations do not apply as a certificate needs to be in existence to then comply with the minimum standard. However, any exemption must be registered.

The detail of the legislation is lengthy and complicated and may require the landlord to seek specialist advice from professionals including surveyors and solicitors.

Article written by Steed & Steed

With offices in Sudbury and Braintree, Steed & Steed provides a wide range of legal advice suited to the specific needs of each client.

Rooftops Winter Edition

Article extracted from David Burrs Rooftops Winter 2017 /2018 Edition