Minimum energy efficiency standards
The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) Regulations were introduced by the government in 2018. The regulations were introduced to improve the quality of private rented buildings in England and Wales, to increase the energy efficiency of the worst performing houses and buildings, to improve the comfort and conditions in privately rented homes and reduce fuel poverty.
Currently, privately rented properties must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of E at the minimum. The legislation prevents landlords from renting out a property with a rating of F or G. This applies to new and existing tenancies.
The Government has committed to long term plans on the improvement of energy efficiency in privately rented homes and has recently consulted on improving energy performance in this sector. One of the proposals is to raise the minimum EPC rating to C for all tenancies by 2035.
More information about the Government's plans to improve energy efficiency in privately rented homes can be found at GOV.UK - Clampdown on landlords with funding boost for councils
What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented. Before a property is marketed to sell or rent, an EPC for potential buyers and tenants must be provided. An EPC contains information about a property's energy use and typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to a G (least efficient) and is valid 10 years. Landlords can be fined if they don't get an EPC when they need one.
You can check your EPC rating and find local EPC assessors on the EPC Register.
What are the council's in Suffolk doing?
The Suffolk councils are working together to investigate any potential breaches of the MEES regulations, looking in the first instance to support landlords to make improvements. Where that fails to deliver better standards, enforcement action will be considered against landlords that don't engage.
Non-compliance with MEES can attract a financial penalty of up to £5,000. If you believe a property is being rented out that does not meet the regulations, please contact Customer Services on 01284 757053 or email email@example.com
Are some properties exempt from the scheme?
Properties that are legally required to have an EPC, that are let on a relevant tenancy type and cannot be improved to meet the minimum E Rating, may be exempt from MEES regulations.
Exemptions are defined as:
- high cost exemptions
- seven-year payback exemptions
- all improvements made exemptions
- wall insulation exemptions
- consent exemptions
- devaluation exemptions
- new landlord exemptions
Find out more about MEES exemptions at GOV.UK - Guidance on PRS exemptions and Exemptions Register evidence requirements
The landlord must register the exemption on the PRS Exemptions Register
Councils will ask for evidence to support any registered exemptions such as expert reports, quotes for improvement works and so on.
Landlords must ensure that where their rented property is required to have a valid EPC, it meets at least an E rating, unless a valid exemption has been registered.
Recommendations for improvements can be found on the EPC and might include:
- boiler renewal
- installation of radiator thermostats
- upgrade and install or top up loft insulation
- install cavity wall insulation
- install energy efficient light bulbs
Properties with older EPCs might have already undergone work to meet the standards but the current EPC may no longer reflect the energy efficiency of the property. Landlords should check their EPCs and consider renewing them if they have undertaken the appropriate works already.
Alongside the MEES Regulations, The Housing Act 2004 gives Local Authorities the power to enforce minimum Housing Standards in the private rented sector using the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS).
The EPC rating of a property cannot be considered in isolation. Even if a property meets an EPC E, landlords will need to provide adequate heating and thermal comfort. Local Authorities can issue penalties of up to £30,000 when hazards such as excess cold are identified in a property. Compliance with the MEES regulations does not mean a property is acceptably warm.
Listed buildings and conservation
Historic Buildings, Listed Buildings or buildings within a conservation area are exempt if "compliance with the minimum energy requirements would unacceptably alter their character appearance".
This is not a blanket exemption. If a building is protected it may still be possible to make improvements. This is only possible where the character or appearance is not altered.
Unacceptable alterations in most protected buildings would be:
- double glazing
- new doors and windows
- external wall insulation
- external boiler flues
However, there are many more low impact measures that may be acceptable. The onus is on the owner to understand which works may, or may not, be permitted on their property.
When applying for an exemption, owners will need to evidence that:
- all recommended measures on their EPC would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of the building
- that none of the recommended measures could have been carried out, to improve the energy efficiency of the building
Owners of such properties should seek advice from the Planning Department and apply for planning permission where necessary.
Please visit Historic England for further information.
What help is available?
Suffolk's Warm Homes Healthy People Service offers advice and assistance to tenants who are at risk from living in a cold and energy inefficient home.
Some funding is available for landlords towards the cost of installing extra energy efficiency measure for tenants whose household income is less than £30,000 per annum. Depending on eligibility and availability, measures could include insulation and low carbon heating improvements.
Councils in Suffolk have secured funding from the government's Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy. This fund will provide energy efficiency grants to cover the full cost of insulation installation on homes in Suffolk.
Find out more about the steps you can take and help that is available on Green Suffolk - Low impact living in Suffolk
Visit Warm Homes Suffolk's website for more information on funding for air source heat pumps, solar PV panels, loft and wall insulation, as well as expert advice for households in Suffolk.
Energy Saving Trust also provide helpful advice and guidance on how to improve the energy efficiency of properties.