With the introduction last year of new energy performance standards for thousands of rental properties, many of these being older properties and HMOs, you don’t need a rocket scientist to calculate that potentially thousands of rental properties may be breaking the law.
The shear impossibility of bringing all these affected properties up to standard in the required time-scale, let alone the lack of knowledge, lack of funds and the unreliability of EPC measurements in practice, means that many landlords could still in theory be vulnerable to punitive fines.
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 has established a minimum level of energy efficiency for privately rented property in England and Wales.
This means that, from April 2018, landlords of privately rented domestic and non-domestic property in England or Wales must ensure that their properties reach at least an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E before granting a new tenancy to new or existing tenants.
From 1 April 2020 these new requirements will apply to all private rented properties in England and Wales, regardless whether there has been a new tenancy, and from 1 April 2023 for all non-domestic properties.
Landlords could therefore be liable to large fines, many of them unaware that they are breaking the law. With all the other changes that’s been going on around residential lettings, landlords could perhaps be forgiven for not keeping up to these challenges, but that’s absolutely no excuse in law.
What’s perhaps most surprising is the variability of EPC results in practice. Very few properties tested are given an EPC rating of A, in fact it’s most unlikely that even a B is achieved. But given that EPC assessors, some with as little as a few weeks’ training, and a computer algorithm to arrive at a result, the differences between C to G can be an inexact science.
Even those landlords who have taken the initiative to make sure they comply with the law could find themselves at odds with the rules through no fault of their own.
Investigations have found that EPC results vary considerably between different types of property and the assessors conducting the inspections. Many EPCs have been found to be inaccurate and need of re-testing.
The government’s drive to professionalise the industry and improve the energy efficiency of its rental property stock is admirable but needs to be tempered by the practicalities of ensuring consistent standards and the timescales involved in bringing thousands of older properties up to standard.
Landlords need to be serious about improving the energy efficiency of their properties to the benefit of their tenants and the environment, and should ensure that they use reputable and qualified EPC surveyor assessors, preferably RICS members.