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Buy-to-let landlords in the private-rental sector are being urged to prepare themselves for the next deadline relating to improved standards in energy efficiency. In April, the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard came into effect, requiring landlords in England and Wales to ensure their properties had a minimum energy performance of E. The aim of the new MEES regulation was to encourage buy-to-let investors to take a look at how energy efficient their properties are and to make improvements where necessary. If a property has a Energy Performance Certificate Rating of either F or G, then it can no longer be rented out after the tenancy expires. If a property is legally required to have an EPC, then it is likely it will come within the scope of these regulations. Self-contained flats, bedsits and houses are subject to these regulations.

Now, landlords are being urged to get ready for April 2020, when these regulations will affect all privately-rented properties regardless of the length of tenancy. Landlords could face void periods while they ensure the property meets the required standards or could even have to sell up. Some properties can get an exemption, for instance if the cost of works to bring them up to standard would be excessive or for certain listed buildings. The call is being made to take action now, because many landlords were unaware of the changes regarding the new MEES shortly before the system was introduced last April.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has issued a document providing guidance and advice on complying with the 2018 ‘Minimum Level of Energy Efficiency’. This shows the steps that landlords need to take to ensure their property meets the minimum requirements, and what they can do to improve energy efficiency in their properties. For older properties, this could mean changing doors and windows, so they are draught-proof, and putting in loft insulation. These improvements also make life more comfortable for the tenants and could increase the value of the property. Tenants will enjoy a warmer home and lower energy bills. The document also points out which properties can be exempt from the MEES certificate and how to register for an exemption. The guidance also explains the enforcement procedure to ensure landlords comply with the minimum standards, including fines of up to £4,000 and other penalties. The document also points out the appeals framework, should a landlord want to lodge an appeal.

Landlords in England and Wales have to provide an Energy Performance Certificate to all potential tenants at no cost before any tenancy is formed. It is crucial that landlords do this, otherwise they are not complying with the Section 21 rules. This means they are unable to serve a Section 21 notice if they want to end the tenancy. They can also be fined for not having an EPC.

Landlords are advised to act now rather than wait until 2020, to ensure their properties meet the new MEES standards on all rentals. That way, if work needs to be done, it can be budgeted for or spread out over a few months to minimise the financial impact.

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