How are EPC’s produced and how long are they valid for?
EPCs are required for all properties being let by commercial landlords. EPCs are issued by EPC Assessors following their inspection of the property. The Assessor will, following their inspection, provide a Recommendation Report setting out what work can be done to improve the rating. Once the EPC has been issued, they are placed on a publicly available register and remain valid for ten years.
There are many criticisms of EPCs in that the Assessors are limited to what they can and cannot do when carrying out their inspections. For example, the inspections cannot be invasive, so no drilling of walls or cavities are carried out to determine the existence of any insulation. The Assessor is therefore relying on the owner of the property to provide documentary evidence or, they can assume the worst, and state that no insulation is in existence.
The assessment is often seen as a box ticking exercise and it can produce uncertainty about the validity of the inspection.
What are the requirements for listed buildings?
There are also problems for owners of listed buildings. There is no automatic exclusion from the obligation to provide an EPC because the property is listed. Some improvements, such as double glazing, are often barred for listed buildings and this makes it difficult to rectify low ratings.
The regulations do indicate that listed buildings can be exempt from certain minimum energy performance requirements where compliance would “unacceptably alter their character or appearance.” It will ultimately be up to the owner of a listed building to understand whether or not their property requires an EPC.
What are MEES regulations?
Under the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, a new minimum energy efficiency standard (MEES) was introduced from 1st April 2018. This means that any property with a rating of below E cannot be lawfully let on new leases from 1st April 2018 and from 1st April 2020, landlords cannot continue to let such sub-standard properties, even to existing tenants.
There are many inconsistencies between EPCs and the new MEES regime and both regimes should be considered carefully as there are conflicts between the two.
Landlords should continue to arrange EPCs as these will provide peace of mind in relation to the rating of the property and will flag up recommended improvements (if any) and will allow the landlord to budget for any improvements required in order to comply with MEES.
There are limited circumstances in which an exemption from MEES can be registered.
Purchasers of property should also be aware of MEES if they intend to let the property. They will however, have a temporary six month exemption where it becomes a landlord as a result of a purchase.
What could happen if I fail to comply with MEES?
Failure to comply with MEES can lead to enforcement action by local authorities with financial penalties ranging from £5,000 – £150,000 per property (according to its rateable value) or the landlord’s public exposure of failure to comply with MEES (which could be a greater worry).
Should you have any doubt as to whether or not your property will require an EPC or have any questions in relation to MEES, please don’t hesitate to contact us so we can help.