The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 introduced minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for domestic private rented properties in 2018. The regulations were introduced to improve the quality of private rented buildings in England and Wales, to increase the energy efficiency of the worst performing houses and buildings, to improve the comfort and conditions in privately rented homes and reduce fuel poverty.
Currently, privately rented properties must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E or better or have a valid exemption registered. The legislation prevents landlords from renting out a property with a rating of F or G. This applies to all new and existing tenancies.
The Government has issued MEES guidance for landlords.
The Government has committed to long term plans on the improvement of energy efficiency in privately rented homes and is currently consulting on improving energy performance in this sector. One of the proposals is to raise the minimum EPC rating to C for new tenancies from 2025 and all tenancies from 2028.
What is an EPC?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented. Before a property is marketed to sell or rent, an EPC for potential buyers and tenants must be provided. An EPC contains:
- Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs
- Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to a G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. Landlords can be fined if they don’t get an EPC when they need one.
You can check your EPC rating and find local EPC assessors on the EPC Register.
What is the Council doing?
The Council is investigating any potential breaches of the MEES regulations and enforcement action will be considered against landlords that fail to bring their property up to the required standard. The onus is on the landlord to ensure that their property meets the MEES standards.
If a private sector landlord continues to rent a property with an EPC rating of F or G, a Compliance Notice and a Penalty Notice can be issued to the landlord, with a maximum penalty of up to £5000.
If you believe a property is being rented out that does not meet the regulations, you can let us know by reporting it.
Are some properties exempt from the scheme?
Properties that are legally required to have an EPC, are let on a relevant tenancy type and cannot be improved to meet the minimum E Rating may be exempt from MEES regulations.
Exemptions are defined as:
- High cost exemptions
- All improvements made exemptions
- Wall insulation exemptions
- Consent exemptions
- Devaluation exemptions
- New landlord exemptions
Find out more about exemptions on gov.uk.
The landlord must register the exemption here
Landlords must ensure all their properties have a valid EPC and their rented property meets at least an ‘E’ rating, unless a valid exemption has been registered.
Recommendations for improvements can be found on the EPC and might include:
- Boiler renewal
- Installation of radiator thermostats
- Upgrade and install loft insulation
- Install cavity wall insulation
- Install energy efficient light bulbs
Properties with older EPC’s might have already undergone work to meet the required standard but the current EPC may no longer reflect the actual energy efficiency rating of the property. Where a landlord has undertaken appropriate works already, then they should check their EPC’s and consider renewing them to reflect the upgrades which have already been undertaken.
Although it may be possible to register an exemption in certain circumstances to comply with MEES, landlords should be mindful that poor energy efficiency may still need to be addressed. The Housing Act 2004 gives Local Authorities the power to enforce minimum Housing Standards in the private rented sector using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The EPC rating of a property therefore cannot be considered in isolation. Even if a property meets an EPC E rating, landlords will need to ensure their property is provided with adequate heating and thermal comfort to ensure that there is not a serious Excess Cold hazard. Local Authorities can issue penalties of up to £30,000 when hazards such as excess cold are identified in a property.
Listed Buildings and Conservation
Historic Buildings, Listed Buildings or buildings within a conservation area are exempt if:
“compliance with the minimum energy requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance”.
This is not a blanket exemption.
Energy improvement measures may require consent where this includes alterations and additions to the fabric of the building – internally and externally. If a building is protected it may still be possible to make improvements, but this is only possible where the character or appearance is not altered and would normally be subject to consent. Measures are preferred that are inconspicuous and do not alter the fabric of historic places. See the Council’s Heritage Web Pages for more information and please also visit Historic England for further information.
The onus is on the owner to understand which works may, or may not, be permitted on their property. The following types of alterations will require consent and may not be deemed acceptable on older buildings, including listed buildings:
- New doors and windows
- Double Glazing
- External or internal wall, roof or floor insulation
- External boiler flues
However, there are many more low impact measures that may be acceptable.
To understand the requirements and the historical significance of the property, landlords of Listed Buildings or properties in Article 4 conservation areas are advised to submit a request for pre-application advice, listing all works intended to be carried out. Further information is available on the Council’s pre-application advice pages.
Advice from the pre-application service will help landlords gauge whether recommended works are likely to be possible before putting in an application for either listed building consent or planning permission.
When applying for an exemption, owners will need to evidence that:
- All recommended measures on their EPC would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of the building; and
- That none of the recommended measures could have been carried out, to improve the energy efficiency of the building.
What help is available?
Wealden District Council is working in partnership with Warmer Sussex. Whether the property has an F or G rating, or it meets minimum standards but are planning improvements to meet the 2028 target of C rating, for a fee Warmer Sussex can advise on how to make the whole property more energy efficient.
The government is currently consulting on changes to the minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector. One of the proposals is to increase the minimum EPC rating to C on new tenancies by 2025 and all tenancies by 2028. You can find out more at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/improving-the-energy-performance-of-privately-rented-homes.
Please visit Warmer Sussex for further information.
Grants maybe available for energy efficiency improvements where the property has an EPC rated D-G and the tenant’s gross annual household income is under £30,000. The maximum grant available is £5,000 with a landlord contribution of 33%.
The scheme is time limited and landlords can now apply for this funding to help comply with the requirements under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. For more information, please contact our Energy Efficiency Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org