If you are a buy-to-let investor you are may be required to take action to ensure that your rental properties comply with the new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) being introduced next year.
Over the past 12 months or so, various experts have offered readers various reminders and top tips to encourage all landlords to take measures to ensure that their properties, both domestic and commercial, will comply with MEES.
Adam Kingswood, head of Nottingham-based Kingswood Residential Investment Management, is the latest expert to urge landlords to be prepared for the changes, which come into force from 1 April 2018, at which point it will be illegal to let or lease a residential or commercial property with a poor energy rating.
With the clock ticking, and depending on the volume of work necessary to meet compliance with the regulations, Kingswood believes that buy-to-let landlords should now be addressing the upcoming changes.
Failure to do so could have adverse legal and financial consequences, as after the April deadline properties that do not meet the minimum standards cannot be re-let until improvements are made. If owners re-let the property, they could face a penalty fine of up to £5,000 for domestic properties and £150,000 for non-domestic properties.
Kingswood said: “With less than 12 months to go until the new legislation comes into place, it is important that landlords put plans in place to ensure that their properties meet the required standards. “We have noticed interest from our clients regarding this now it is less than 12 months away and we are busy advising them on the necessary steps to take to ensure they are compliant.”
Introduced with the aim of improving the energy efficiency of private rented properties, MEES requires all buildings, both domestic and non-domestic, in England or Wales to achieve at least an ‘E’ rating on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) before they can be leased or rented.
Kingswood added: “Landlords whose properties currently fail to meet this minimum standard must undertake an energy efficiency programme of works to ensure compliance. Landlords should review their EPCs now, as even properties that currently have an EPC rating of “E” may be at risk from the regulations as the standard for achieving an “E” grade has changed since EPCs were first introduced.”
Putting into place an action plan to lift the EPC rating of at risk properties by making strategic and well-targeted improvements may help landlords to reduce the cost implications of achieving compliance, according to the letting expert.
He advises that the first step is to verify the accuracy of any existing EPC report. EPCs may well have been rated incorrectly due to flawed assumptions made by the software or improvement works that will improve the EPC rating may have been carried out without the certificate being renewed.
He continued: “In some cases, the EPC may just need updating if improvement works have already been carried out but the EPC wasn’t updated since the initial certificate.
“With time flying by before the introduction of MEES in April 2018, having a well formulated energy action plan in place and working through it now, may help to give landlords peace of mind knowing that their properties are compliant or that steps are in hand to address the issues.”