Energy Performance Certificates: Landlords, are you following the correct EPC certificate requirements?

EPC requirements

In 2018, EPC requirements changed for landlords through the introduction of a minimum energy rating of ‘E’ or above for new tenancies. This rule now applies to all tenancies, not just new ones.

In 2021, updates to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards were also announced, planning to make changes that will affect landlords and rentals from 2028.

In 2023, following a period of speculation, the Government announced they are shelving any new EPC regulations, with no plans to revisit proposals in the foreseeable future.

In this article, we recap the EPC regulation timeline and provide details on everything you need to know, including your legal responsibilities and what happens if your property doesn’t have an EPC.

What are the current EPC requirements?

Since October 2008, rental properties in England and Wales have required an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

On April 1 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all properties being let or sold in England and Wales to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above.

From 1 April 2020, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards apply to all existing tenancies – not just new ones or renewals.

If your property doesn’t have a valid EPC rating of ‘E’ or above, it cannot be legally let.

Are EPC requirements changing?

After a consultation in December 2020, the Government announced changes to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for England and Wales, proposing that rental properties would need an EPC rating of ‘C’ or above by 2028.

They originally proposed that new regulations would be introduced for new tenancies from 2025, followed by all tenancies from 2028.

In March 2023 the proposed deadline was extended to 2028 for all rentals. The Government also proposed raising the penalty for not having a valid EPC from £5,000 to £30,000 from 2028.

These proposed regulation changes were designed to make homes more energy-efficient and reduce carbon emissions as part of the government target to be ‘net-zero’ by 2050.

In September 2023 the Government announced that new EPC proposals would be abandoned, with the minimum energy rating remaining unchanged for the foreseeable future.

What is an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate gives detailed information about your property’s energy efficiency and carbon dioxide emissions.

To receive an EPC, you must have an Energy Assessment Survey carried out at your property. Your Domestic Energy Assessor will perform internal and external inspections to determine how energy-efficient your building is and what possible level of efficiency is achievable if improvements are made.

Some of the things your assessor will take a look include:

  • Windows
  • Roofs, walls and insulation
  • Boilers and heating systems
  • Renewable energy devices (solar panels or wind turbines)
  • Lighting
  • Fireplaces
  • Building measurements
  • The year the property was built

Once your assessor has performed a full inspection, they will compile your EPC and grade your property’s energy performance: ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ being the least.

Do I need my tenant’s permission before arranging an energy assessment?

Landlords and letting agents must give tenants at least 24 hours’ written notice before any property visits. As an energy performance assessment and EPC is a legal requirement, the majority of tenants will happily oblige, but some may want to be present when the assessor stops by.

The tenant must give their consent for any property visits unless it’s an emergency such as a fire, flood or gas leak.

How long does an EPC last?

Once your EPC has been issued, it is then valid for ten years. When it runs out, you do not need a new one unless you are entering a new tenancy with new tenants or selling the property.

Your EPC also includes a recommendation report containing advice and improvements to make your property more energy-efficient. Your assessor’s suggestions may include:

  • Installing cavity wall and loft insulation
  • Draught-proofing windows and doors
  • Insulating pipes and tanks
  • Installing a condensing boiler
  • Reducing water usage
  • Considering energy-efficient glazing
  • Considering renewable energy technology such as a air source heat pumps, wood-fuelled heating, solar panels or wind turbines
  • Installing low-energy usage light bulbs

When do I need to renew my EPC?

If your Energy Performance Certificate expires, you are not automatically required to get a new one – you will only need to get a new EPC if you intend to let to a new tenant, or wish to sell the property.

Once an EPC reaches the ten-year point and expires, there is currently no automatic requirement for a new one to be commissioned. A further EPC will only be required the next time a trigger point is reached, i.e. when the property is next sold or let to a new tenant.

How can landlords meet the current EPC requirements?

If you haven’t got an EPC yet, you’ll need to book your Energy Assessment as soon as you can. The inspection itself will only take around 30 to 40 minutes, but if your property doesn’t meet the EPC requirements of ‘E’ or above, the suggested improvements made by your assessor could take weeks to carry out.

Book your Energy Performance Certificate today with a qualified assessor.

As a landlord, you have a legal responsibility to read through recommendations in your EPC report and ensure your property meets the legally-required rating. Landlords may spend up to a maximum of £3,500 on these energy efficiency improvements, including any funding or grants given by the government, local authorities or energy companies.

If your suggested improvements exceed £3,500, you can apply for a high-cost exemption via the PRS Exemptions Register.

Which properties are exempt from EPC requirements?

Some properties are exempt from the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards. If your property is listed or protected and the improvements would unacceptably alter it, it is exempt from EPC requirements.

Exemptions also apply to:

  • Temporary buildings (to be used for two years or less)
  • Places of worship
  • Some industrial sites or workshops
  • Detached buildings with a floor space of 50 metres or less
  • Buildings that are due to be demolished

Are tenants entitled to a copy of the EPC?

Yes, they are. All tenants must be provided with a copy of the property’s Energy Performance Certificate upon move-in.

If you are a tenant and are wondering what your rental property’s EPC rating is, you can find it via the Government’s Energy Performance of Buildings Register. Simply type in your postcode, click your address, and all the energy performance information will be available to you.

What happens if I don’t have an EPC?

Your property cannot be legally let if it doesn’t have a valid Energy Performance Certificate. If you are found to have no EPC, you may be fined up to £5,000 by your local authorities.

You must provide your tenant with a copy of the EPC at the beginning of the tenancy or – if you have renewed the certificate whilst they’re in situ – at the earliest opportunity.

As a landlord, you are also legally obligated to give your tenant a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide, plus your EICR and Gas Safety Certificate. If you don’t supply your tenant with these legal documents, you won’t be able to issue a Section 21 notice.

What are the EPC requirements for Scotland and Wales?

All rental properties in Scotland and Wales require an energy rating of ‘E’ or above to be let.

Are there more changes to come for EPCs?

Following the Government’s EPC proposal reversal, landlords are not legally required to take any further action to improve energy ratings beyond mandated minimums.

However, the Government is recommending upgrades where possible, to increase energy efficiency, and support its drive towards ‘net zero’. To aid this, they have increased the Boiler Upgrade Scheme grant, to enable switching from gas boilers to greener alternatives.

We also support landlords making upgrades wherever possible, to increase efficiency, reduce long-term costs, and improve livability and comfort for tenants. However, in legal terms, landlords need only ensure they meet existing EPC requirements, while looking out for future updates and announcements.

If you need an energy certificate for your property, click to arrange your EPC with us today.

What do you think of the EPC proposal reversal?

What do you think of the Government’s EPC proposals and subsequent retraction? Are you a landlord who has already made energy efficiency upgrades, or perhaps even sold your property due to previously looming legislation? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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