April 2018 saw the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) rolled out across England and Wales, making it illegal for landlords to grant a new lease on a rental property which has an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E.
The April changes were only the opening salvo – from April 2020 it will be entirely illegal to rent out a property which does not achieve an EPC rating of E regardless of whether there is an existing lease in place or not.
This obviously spells big changes for many landlords as new measures to increase the energy performance of buy-to-let properties will have to be implemented in many cases. Whether that means improving the insulation, installing a modern boiler, replacing old windows or putting in more advanced measures such as waste water heat recovery systems, a lot of work will be done on rental properties in the next few years.
This could be compounded by mooted government measures to raise the minimum standard to C by 2030.
However, it seems that many landlords – led by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) – actually don’t think the measures go far enough. The trade body estimates that the new regulations will cost each landlord an average of £5,800 to make the required repairs, leading it to recommend that all repairs and improvements required to meet EPC standards should be tax deductible. In this way the RLA believes that landlords can be incentivised to bring their rental properties up to the highest standards.
On the surface this is self-interested move from the RLA given that they have been campaigning against landlord tax rises for a long time now. However, this might be one of those rare situations where everybody wins whether they are a landlord or a tenant.
As we know, the UK private rented sector is growing rapidly as more and more people are remaining in rental accommodation for the long term, whether that is because they cannot afford a home of their own or they enjoy the freedom that renting provides. Surely, with that being the case, it is in the government’s interest to incentivise landlords to provide the best homes possible and thereby pull up the standard of housing stock across the country.
On the tenant side of things, any measure which can bring homes up to a high standard should be welcomed. If this can be done at the same time as reducing energy bills – which are fast becoming unmanageable thanks to annual price rises – then that is another bonus.
Are you a landlord looking for advice on EPC standards? Get in touch with our experts today for more information.