Lower heating bills for renters – Landlords do you need to make changes?

From 1 April 2018 all privately rented properties must have a minimum energy performance rating of “E”.

This means landlords must make improvements to homes, upgrading insulation or heating systems for example, which should make them cheaper to heat.

The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020.

The Government has announced it will be unlawful to rent out a property which breaches this minimum rating, meaning properties which fall in the less efficient “F” or “G” categories will no longer be acceptable.

A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for landlords who let homes that fall below the minimum standard.

Which properties are affected by the changes?

The new regulations apply to private, domestic rented properties in England and Wales which are let under an assured tenancy or a shorthold tenancy. The tenancy should be regulated under the Rent Acts including assured agricultural occupancy, protected and statutory tenancies under the Rent Act 1976.

The properties affected are any domestic, privately rented properties which are required by law to have an EPC or are contained within a larger unit which is required to have one. This includes houses, flats and self-contained units but isn’t applicable to bedsits. The EPC cannot be more than 10 years old.

Which properties are excluded?

Protected buildings and structures (such as those with listed status or restricted environmental regulations) are exempt if the measures needed to improve energy efficiency will alter the character or appearance of the building. In addition, temporary structures with intended use times of 2 years or less, residences used for less than 4 months of a year and buildings with floor area of less than 50 square metres are also exempt.

 Are there rules about how energy efficiency is improved?

There are no regulations relating to how the energy efficiency rating E is achieved so it is up to the individual landlord what work is carried out on the property. The regulations stipulate that only cost-effective improvements should be made and it’s possible that a landlord could be exempt in some cases. For example, if a landlord can prove that they’ve taken all possible cost-effective measures to make improvements but the rating still remains below E. Or, in some cases, the landlord may be unable to obtain consent from the occupying tenant.

Are there exemptions?

Any properties which are exempt from the new regulations need to be registered on the PRS Exemptions Register. This registration has been open since October 2017. Failure to register will be seen as non-compliance with the regulations. Once a property is assessed and declared exempt this remains valid for 5 years. After that period it would need to be reassessed.

How the regulations are enforced and what are the penalties?

The regulations will be enforced by the local authority who will serve landlords with compliance notices to confirm properties either meet the required standards or have been declared as exempt. If they find a landlord has not complied with either they are able to issue a penalty fine which, cumulatively, could reach up to £5,000. A landlord can request a review of a penalty notice followed by an appeals process if they are still not satisfied with the local authority’s decision.

There are several improvements you can make to a property which will improve the energy efficient rating and many are very simple to carry to out. You could improve the energy efficiency of your property significantly by:

  • Replacing a non-condensing boiler with a new condensing, A rated boiler with over 90% energy efficiency.
  • Installing or improving insulation in walls, roof, and loft spaces, pipework etc. to prevent heat loss. You may even be able to qualify for a free insulation grant to help with the cost.
  • Installing solar panels and a solar energy storage system to reduce the property’s energy dependence on the National Grid
  • Installing double glazed windows to reduce the amount of heat escaping through poorly fitted frames or basic single glazing.

If you wish to discuss any of this further then please contact us 0116 2423400

Hollie Crown, Office Manager

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