Since April 2018 Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) have applied to the grant of both private sector rented domestic and non-domestic properties. This has meant that since that date, it has been unlawful for landlords to grant tenancies where their properties do not have Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings of E or above.
Despite the call for postponement (due to the Covid-19 pandemic), as of today (1 April 2020), MEES apply to all existing private sector domestic residential lettings. Therefore any qualifying domestic tenancies in place after today with an EPC rating of F or G will be in breach of the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015, unless an exemption applies.
Landlords continuing to let such domestic property will risk enforcement action and fines of up to £5,000. Whether enforcement will be forthcoming though, is questionable. Minimal enforcement action in both the domestic and non-domestic sphere to date has been blamed on 'new' tenancies not being easily distinguishable from 'existing' tenancies. Today's change in the law applying MEES to all existing domestic qualifying tenancies may therefore make enforcement easier. We are however now living in unprecedented times with the added complication of 'isolation' and 'social distancing', where Local Authorities are likely to have more pressing concerns than MEES enforcement.
The Regulations are now here and in force and domestic landlords should therefore, if they have not already done so, be reviewing property portfolios to ensure compliance - either undertaking works to increase a property's EPC rating or registering an exemption.
MEES will not begin to apply to existing commercial tenancies until 1 April 2023. As a result, non-domestic landlords will be watching with interest as to whether Local Authorities now start to enforce the legislation and if so, the extent to which they do.