Government encourage MEES enforcement
In an article published in The Independent, the Government has made it clear that “local authorities have the power to issue fines of up to £5,000 for landlords to ensure minimum energy efficiency standards are met”, and that they are “working with local authorities to make it even easier for them to issue fines.”
In a disappointing report, it has been estimated that fewer than six per cent of borough and district councils across England and Wales have taken enforcement action against landlords illegally letting out properties with the lowest energy efficiency ratings.
Of the 268 authorities which responded to a Freedom of Information request which asked for details of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) enforcement, only 17 were found to have taken any enforcement action. Since 2018, a total of 449 compliance notices and just 17 financial penalties have been issued for breaches of MEES, with fines totalling £65,600.
What is MEES?
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 grading. In April 2020, this rule was expanded to cover all tenancies.
The Government plans to tighten the MEES rules gradually, to require landlords to meet EPC ratings of D by 2025, and C by 2030, but without effective enforcement, it is unlikely these standards will be met, warned Ed Matthew, Executive Director at climate think tank E3G: “These standards are only as effective as the effort and resources that are put into compliance …. It does not bode well for a tightening of these standards in future years when there are likely to be far more properties covered. If [councils] can’t cope now, enforcement could completely fall apart in the future”.
Elmhurst's Managing Director, Martyn Reed, welcomes the article from the Independent, but is also keen to highlight a different side to this story: “The number of EPC being issued in the private rental sector has risen by over 200% from just 160,000 per year in 2017 to 493,000 in the last year. That shows that the message is getting out and that a significant proportion of landlords are responding. Promotion of the legation by Elmhurst and our members has got the message out, and professionals such as surveyors, mortgage lenders, agents and solicitors are now flagging up the issues to a potential buyer when a “substandard” property is being purchased as a buy-to-let. That is not to say that legislation and enforcement is not required, as there are some landlords that are blatantly disregarding the regulation and, regrettably they will only respond when they are forced to.”
Article published: 15/07/2020