Have you put the date in your diary yet? The 1st of April 2018 is now less than four months away – which leaves little time for landlords to be fully prepared for the implementation of Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES) in let property.
What’s it all about?
As the pressure group for corporate social responsibility 3BL points out, the government’s intention to impose minimum standards of energy efficiency in let property has been under consideration for more than five years.
Regulations giving effect to new Minimum Energy Efficient Standards (MEES) were eventually passed by Parliament on the 26th of March 2015 – with the intention of providing landlords sufficient notice for making any anticipated improvements to their let properties in time for the commencement date of the 1st of April 2018.
As we pointed out here at Cover4LetProperty back in May 2017, however, the advance warnings seemed to have little effect on many landlords. We cited research to suggest that, at that time, one in four owners of let property had no idea at all about MEES and two in every three remained hazy about just what the new regulations meant and how they might affect their buy to let businesses.
Yet MEES – like every other legal obligation imposed on landlords – has a serious purpose and strict penalties for non-compliance, with possible implications for your let property insurance if you knowingly breach the rules.
The basis for MEES standards is the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), which confers an energy efficiency rating on any home according to a scale from A (the most energy efficient) to G (the least). An EPC is already necessary for anyone wanting to sell their home or any landlord intending to let one (a copy of the certificate must be made available to your tenants when they move in).
The MEES regulations which come into effect on the 1st of April 2018 now make it illegal for you to let your property unless its energy efficiency meets certain minimum standards. Your accommodation must be rated at least an E, and it is prohibited to let or offer for rent property with an EPC of F or G.
Strict penalties are incorporated in the regulations. If your property does not comply with the new minimum energy performance standards, you may face fines of up to 20% of its rateable value if you have failed to take the necessary remedial action within three months.
The majority of properties offered for rent are already likely to meet the new Minimum Energy Efficient Standards. For those that do not, landlords may hardly complain that they have not had enough time to make the alterations and improvements necessary to upgrade the energy efficiency of their property.
Nevertheless, buy to let businesses have been under increasing pressure recently from a host of rules and regulations designed to encourage the overall upgrading of private rented accommodation. MEES may be a further source of financial pressure as far as some landlords are concerned.