Warming the Planet vs Warming Your Home

EPC Graph for rental propertyGiven that oil prices have halved in the last 12 months an argument could be made that the pressure for introducing energy saving measures into your home has relaxed somewhat.

However heating cost is not the only driver, given climate change and global warming concerns. There are now EU, and therefore UK targets, to meet in improving insulation standards. The measure of insulation efficiency is now most commonly made using Energy Performance Certificates (EPC). These are available for both commercial and residential property. The energy performance measured includes the type and energy efficiency of the heating system and the insulation standards for all components of the property. Even the efficiency of the light bulbs is measured.

From 1st April 2018 it will not be possible to advertise any property with an EPC rating of F or G, residential or commercial, to let without having first improved the EPC rating to E or better.

Row of terraced housesThis year, effective since 1st April, landlords of domestic private rented property in England and Wales are no longer able to unreasonably refuse a request by an existing or future tenant to carry out energy efficient improvements, where those improvements can be funded at no cost to the landlord, by central government, a local authority, the tenant or any other person. This would include property let on assured and assured shorthold tenancies and on Rent Act 1977 protected tenancies. Farmhouses let on agricultural tenancies would normally be regarded as commercial property and therefore would fall under this regulation from 1st April 2018, unless they are sub-let.

The ‘Green Deal’ which was supposed to help fund much of these improvements closed in July 2015, so there is now far more ‘stick’ than ‘carrot’ in persuading property owners to make the necessary improvements.

The regulations continue to squeeze, since from 1st April 2020 residential property cannot “continue to be let” if it does not comply with these energy efficiency regulations, and from the 1st April 2023 non-domestic property, by which definition would include a farmhouse, is also caught. The regulation in respect of Listed Buildings is commonly misunderstood. It appears to be the case that an EPC is required for a Listed Building, but the owner does not have to act on its recommendations if compliance would unacceptably alter the character or appearance to the building.

A ‘new letting’ would include the extension or renewal of a lease, for the purposes of these regulations. A landlord that is in breach of these regulations is likely to be exposed to penalties rather than being a ground to bring any form of tenancy to an end.

For more information please contact either our Stratford on Avon office on 01789 292310 or our Shipston on Stour office on 01608 661666.