Tenants signing new agreements with private landlords should benefit from changes in the law from 1 April 2018.
New rules make it illegal for a landlord to sign a new tenancy agreement of more than 6 months if the property has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of band F or G - the lowest in terms of insulation and heating efficiency.
Landlords breaking these Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) now face fines of up to £4000.
These rules do not apply to lets of less than 6 months.
Minimum energy standards for landlords came into force from April 2018.
It is estimated that over 300,000 of the 4.7 million properties in the private rented sector in England and Wales may fail to meet the new regulations, which do not apply in Scotland or Northern Ireland. Even existing long-term tenants can look forward to some improvements because from 1 April 2020 all domestic private rented properties must be rated at least band E on their EPC.
Some properties are exempted from the rules, such as 'listed' buildings or 'hard-to-treat' properties; however, these must be registered on the Private Rented Sector Exemptions Register.
How will MEES be enforced?
Local authorities are responsible for checking whether a property meets the minimum required standards. If a breach is noted, a compliance notice is issued, which requests all relevant information from the landlord. If this fails to materialize, the local authority can impose a civil fine of up to £4000. Moreover, the landlord is faced with a property that they cannot let for the long term.
Note that tenants are entitled to carry out work at their own expense. However, it is unlawful for landlords to unreasonably refuse a tenant's request to carry out work to upgrade the property's enegy efficiency.
Can I find if my place has an EPC?
Yes, you can search the official EPC register online, using the postcode of your property. Just click here. If you think your landlord is flouting the law, notify your local authority housing office.