The Energy Performance Certificate or EPC has attracted critics from all sides of the spectrum. Some accuse it of being arbitrary and subjective. Environmental groups feel that the steps taken to make buildings energy efficient do not currently go far enough. It is in view of the fact that the UK is falling behind most other countries in improving building energy efficiency that the government is forging ahead with reforms due to come into effect in April 2018.
An Imposed Minimum Rating
One of the most important regulations and the most critical to the rental sector is that all properties in England and Wales must have a minimum rating of “E” based on an examination not older than ten years. This will apply to all new tenancies after this date. Landlords who expect their student tenants to occupy the property for a single academic year will need to start planning now to ensure that their property complies with the minimum standard. The new academic year is just two months away, but it will be no time at all before next year’s potential students are already searching for property. Existing and ongoing tenancies have a further two years to comply.
Which Buildings Are Exempt?
Largely, buildings and property that are already exempt will continue to be so. Namely, that is:
- Residential properties vacant for more than eight months per year
- Buildings designed to stand on a temporary basis (less than two years)
- Protected and listed buildings whose unique or special architecture may be required to undergo significant change in appearance
- Free-standing buildings with less than 50sqm of floor space are not required to comply. S
Student property rarely fits into any of these categories so you will certainly need to begin acting now to plan the long-term energy performance of your property.
The Consequences of Non-Compliance
The most important factor in the alterations to EPC regulation is that any property that does not adequately match the minimum E rating will be refused permission to host tenants. Before any property owner is permitted to contract out the property for rent, they must make the recommended changes to improve the energy performance. Should a landlord rent out a property knowing that the EPC is in the F-G category, they will be subject to significant fines.
Exemptions apply to fines for non-compliance. For example, buildings that have improved the energy efficiency but still fall below the minimum requirements (where restrictions apply on what the owner may do) or where a landlord has been refused permission to make changes – either by a council or by a third-party owner. Similarly, exemptions are in place where tenants refuse access to make improvements. Finally, where an architect or related profession writes in a professional capacity that such alterations will damage the fabric or structure of the building will also mean exemption from fines.