This post was last updated on February 11th, 2021 at 03:59 pm
In 2018, EPC requirements changed for landlords through the introduction a minimum energy rating of ‘E’ or above for new tenancies. In 2020, along with several other regulations in the rental sector – they changed again.
In this article, we are going to recap the changes that happened in 2020, including everything you need to know about the latest updates for EPCs, what your legal responsibilities are and what else landlords can expect from the year ahead.
- What are the current EPC requirements?
- How are EPC requirements changing?
- What is an EPC?
- How long does an EPC last for?
- When do I need to renew my EPC?
- How can landlords prepare for new EPC requirements?
- Which properties are exempt from EPCs?
- Are tenants entitled to a copy of the EPC?
- What happens if I don’t have an EPC?
- What other legal changes can landlords expect from 2020?
- Are there more changes to come for EPCs?
The Scottish Energy Efficiency Regulations scheduled to come into force April 1st 2020 have now been postponed due to COVID-19.
What are the current EPC requirements?
Since October 2008, rental properties in England and Wales have required an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).
On April 1st 2018, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) came into force. This required all rental properties of new tenancies and renewals to have a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ or above.
How have EPC requirements changed?
From 1st 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 by this date, it cannot be legally let.
What is an EPC?
An Energy Performance Certificate gives detailed information 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 improvement are made.
Some of the things your assessor will take a look at are:
- Roofs, walls and insulation
- Boilers and heating systems
- Renewable energy devices (solar panels or wind turbines)
- The building measurements
- The year the property was built
Once your assessor has performed a full inspection, they will put together your EPC and grade your property’s energy performance: ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ being the least.
How long does an EPC last for?
Once your EPC has been issued, it is then valid for ten years. Once it runs out, you do not need to get a new one unless you are entering a new tenancy with new tenants.
Your EPC will also come with a recommendation report containing advice and improvements that will 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 wood fuelled heater, 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.
Government guidance states: “Once an EPC reaches the ten-year point and expires, there is 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, let to a new tenant“.
How can landlords prepare for 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 you’re 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 carry out the changes suggested in your EPC report. 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?
Exemptions also apply to:
- Temporary buildings (to be used for two years or less)
- Places of worship
- Some industrial site 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 Energy Performance of Buildings Register. Simply type in your postcode, click you 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 and your 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 other changes should Landlords be aware of?
EPC requirements weren't the only things that changed for landlords in 2020. Mandatory electrical safety inspections were expected for April, the Tenant Fees Act was extended to existing tenancies in June, and changes to capital gains tax and mortgage tax relief were expected too.
As for Section 21, the announcement of a new Renters Reform Bill in the 2019 Queen’s Speech is said to “put an end to no-fault evictions” and “deliver a fairer and more effective rental market”. What this will mean for Section 21 is yet to be confirmed, but landlords should keep their eyes peeled for government announcements.
Are there more changes to come for EPCs?
At the moment, April's changes are all that landlords can prepare for in regards to EPCs. However, it's possible that the minimum EPC rating will be pushed higher than band 'E' to reduce the UK's energy usage and align with national environmental targets.
For now though, meeting EPC requirements and keeping an eye out for future updates is all landlords can do.
Get your EPC sorted today.