Great news for Non-Domestic Energy Assessors
Many members are reporting significant increased demand for non-domestic EPCs as the deadline for Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), the regulation that prevents private landlords renting the least energy efficient properties from April 2018, starts to get closer.
The Government has now ‘put meat on the bones’, with the publication of “The non-domestic Private Rented Property minimum standard – Landlord guidance” document.
As Elmhurst have said many times the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property)(England and Wales) Regulations 2015 mean that, from April 2018, private non-domestic (and domestic) landlords must ensure that properties they rent in England and Wales reach at least an EPC rating of E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants. Furthermore the regulations will expand this from April 2023, to where there has been no change in the tenancy arrangements.
This attempts to clarify for all non domestic landlords what responsibilities they now have. The document is also written to include guidance for all stakeholders in this sector. Stakeholders will naturally include the enforcement authority, which in this case is the Local Weights and Measures (Trading Standards) as well as Letting Agents, Energy Assessors, Management Agencies etc.
The documents aim is to clarify for all stakeholders the following:
- The Scope of the regulations: the steps a landlord should take to determine whether their property is covered by the regulations, and the steps they should take to ensure their property complies with the minimum level of energy efficiency;
- Relevant improvements: how a landlord can identify appropriate energy efficiency improvements for their property;
- Cost effectiveness: how a landlord can calculate whether particular improvements would be cost effective to install;
- Exemptions and exclusions: the exemptions framework and the steps a landlord should take to register a valid exemption;
- Enforcement: the enforcement framework and the options open to enforcement authorities when policing compliance with the minimum standards, including information on fines and other penalty options;
- The appeals framework: landlord appeals will be heard by the First-tier Tribunal, part of the court system administered by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service; the guidance discusses the steps a landlord will need to take to lodge an appeal, and how that process will be run.
Landlords that believe that the property they are renting will be either an ‘F or G’ rated on the EPC, but that it is exempt from the regulation to make it more energy efficient, must register the ‘exemption’ on a new ‘PRS Exemptions Register’ which is being released by Government.
The positive news is that throughout the guidance the Energy Performance Certificate is at the core of the Policy; and Landlords that indeed do need to make a claim for exemption, will have to register the property with proper professional documentation, including the Energy Certificate (indicating an F or G rating) and other appropriate documentary evidence in order to be able to claim the exemption. The authorities will enforce the information from this central database. In Elmhurst opinion this ensures that this is not a ‘tick box’ exercise for Landlords, but that a bar has been set at an appropriate level, allowing genuine exemptions, but not frivolous loop holes to be used as excuses.
This is also positive news for domestic members as the evidence requirements for exemption are likely to follow a similar line ensuring that this is not used as an easy way out.
Stuart Fairlie Head of Technical at Elmhurst stated: “This is very good news for non domestic energy assessors as it is clearing up how the regulations will work in reality. We have seen lots of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many Landlords, especially the fund managers of portfolios are taking this regulation extremely seriously and looking at the viability of their portfolios moving forward. This ultimately is a good opportunity to energy assessors to advise these clients and create good business opportunities. It is also extremely likely that the same Guidance will come out for domestic MEES, which will be a similar good news story for domestic energy assessors.”
To obtain the full Guidance click here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-non-domestic-private-rented-property-minimum-standard-landlord-guidance
For more information (including fact sheets) on MEES from Elmhurst see here: http://www.elmhurstenergy.co.uk/help-support/minimum-energy-efficiency-standards