In 2019, BEIS launched the Enforcement Pilot study to research the current successfulness of MEES enforcements across the domestic and non-domestic sector. A conscious effort to actually explore this subject is very welcomed in the energy assessment industry and we are very happy to receive the results of the 1 year pilot study and see the launch of Phase 2.
Phase 1 focused on the developing process to identify non-compliant properties and their landlords. Communication and engagement strategies were developed to raise awareness of, and compliance with, the PRS Regulations amongst landlords, tenants and other market players, and enforcement processes were put in place.
The Main Findings
- Challenges of enforcement were largely similar across both sectors
- It’s a highly resource intensive task to identify non-compliance and to confirm landlord details to enable enforcement actions
- To be able to identify non-compliance, local authorities require access to good quality and up-to-date data, which is difficult to access or not available
- Local authorities also require the in-house ability to analyse and cross match datasets. Local authorities have found it difficult to free up the required time and resource to begin this process
- After non-compliant buildings have been identified it is difficult to enforce at the point of let/lease renewal
- Requiring a building to meet an EPC E standard before it can be let, or have the lease renewed, leaves local authorities with a very small time window in which to act
- More likely, the lease will go ahead, and local authorities are in the position of having to try to understand when the building was let, and what its EPC was at that point, in order to enforce retrospectively
- The PRS Regulations leave scope for local authorities to implement an enforcement approach that works for the local area, but taking a bespoke approach can be time consuming and resource intensive
- Government considers that it’s the right approach for local authorities to interpret the regulations and ensure enforcement. However the Government is committed to removing unnecessary uncertainty from the PRS Regulations where it does not benefit the local authority or the landlord
- The Government has established proposals that attempt to balance the need to standardise the process and remove unnecessary ambiguity, whilst also providing local authorities with the necessary flexibility for enforcement
In July 2020, BEIS launched Phase 2 of the Enforcement Pilot, which looked at a set of twelve new local authorities to test, develop and refine the findings from the first year of the study, with a focus on the domestic sector. The Government plans to share the findings of the pilot study with all local authorities in England and Wales, in the form of an advisory best-practice toolkit on monitoring compliance and enforcement of MEES in 2021 – with relevant learnings also applied to the non-domestic sector.
Josh Wakeling, Non-Domestic Technical Team Leader says “It’s great to see Government taking enforcement seriously, it is a very important part of the process to ensure people who attempt to not play by the rules are caught. We continue to push for excellence in standards to improve all homes and businesses. Additionally, the development of the new Energy Performance of Buildings register in September 2020 should assist with the issues around data access highlighted in the phase one pilot. The Private Rental Sector Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards have played a pivotal role in moving England’s and Wales’ building stock towards net zero 2050 targets”.