Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Regulations were introduced by the government 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 at the minimum. The legislation prevents landlords from renting out a property with a rating of F or G. This applies to 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. More about the government's plans and how to respond to the consultation can be found here.
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
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
- 7-year payback 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.
Landlords who require a selective licence will now only be eligible for a five year licence if they provide an EPC which proves they meet the standards. Properties that fall below an E rating will only be eligible for a one year licence, unless they are on the exemption register. When this licence expires, they can apply for a five year licence provided they have carried out the works to bring them up to the minimum standard of an E rating.
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 EPCs might have already undergone work to meet te standards but the current EPC may no longer reflect the energy efficiency of the property. Landlords should check their EPCs and consider renewing them if they have undertaken the appropriate works already.
Alongside the MEES Regulations, 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) see HHSRS for Landlords and Property Related Professionals.
The EPC rating of a property cannot be considered in isolation. Even if a property meets and EPC E, landlords will need to provide adequate heating and thermal comfort. 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. If a building is protected it may still be possible to make improvements. This is only possible where the character or appearance is not altered.
Unacceptable alterations in most protected buildings would be:
- Double Glazing
- New doors and windows
- External wall insulation
- External boiler flues
However, there are many more low impact measures that may be acceptable. The onus is on the owner to understand which works may, or may not, be permitted on their property.
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.
Owners of such properties should seek advice from the Planning Department and apply for planning permission where necessary.
Please visit Historic England for further information.
What help is available?
Hastings Borough 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 now to meet the 2030 target of C rating, for a small fee Warmer Sussex can advise on how to make the whole property more energy efficient.
Please visit Warmer Sussex for further information.
The government has recently announced a Green Homes Grant scheme in the form of a voucher to help cover the cost of making energy efficiency improvements. You can apply for the voucher from the end of September 2020.
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.
Non-compliance with MEES can attract a financial penalty of up to £5,000. If you believe a property is being rented out that does not meet the regulations, you can let us know here
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