Landlords are very unlikely to face prosecution for leaving tenants in cold and draughty homes, according to new research into energy efficiency regulations designed to protect renters across England and Wales.
Fewer than 6% of councils have taken any enforcement action against landlords illegally letting out properties with the lowest energy efficiency ratings, data obtained by the i newspaper reveals. But councils in England and Wales are set to receive a toolkit to help them enforce the regulations next year.
In April 2018, the Government introduced the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES), barring landlords from starting new tenancies for properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of F or G, the lowest gradings.
In April 2020, this was extended to cover all tenancies and should mean that 290,000 rented homes – almost half of which house tenants living in fuel poverty – should receive improvements.
The Government estimates it will cost about £1,200-£2,000 to bring an F or G rated property up to standard, and landlords can claim an exemption if costs exceed £3,500.
But there are fears that thousands are flouting the rules and going unpunished; of the 268 authorities which responded to a Freedom of Information request from i asking for details of MEES enforcement, just 17 had taken any action. Since 2018, 449 compliance notices and just 17 fines totalling £65,600 have been issued for breaches of MEES.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has been working with seven councils to test bottom-up, local authority-generated solutions to monitoring, compliance, and enforcement of the regulations.
A spokesman tells LandlordZONE that this helped develop a best practice enforcement toolkit of case studies, templates, and off-the-shelf tools to help streamline the process and make it less resource intensive.
He says: “We’re now conducting a second round of pilots to road-test and refine it with a new, wider pool of English and Welsh local authorities before we publish the final toolkit to all local authorities in England and Wales in 2021.”