New energy performance certificate: Keeping your property green

In 2018, new legislation was introduced to improve the energy-efficiency of private rented property in the UK. 

The Domestic Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Regulations (MEES) state that all private rented property must achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) grade of E or higher. Any landlords renting a property rated F or G (the lowest grade) could face a penalty of up to £4,000. Landlords currently have until 1 April 2020 to improve any property being rented out – including existing tenancies, not just new ones – to a rating of E, or to register an exemption.

But what does it take to achieve an EPC rating of E or above? And how can landlords who aren’t sure what their rating is or have lost their EPC find out whether they need to take action?

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the EPC and find out how to track yours down, how to schedule a new assessment and how to improve your rating. 

 

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

Any home that is rented, bought or sold in the UK needs an EPC. This shows how energy-efficient the property is and offers some advice for what could be done to improve its energy efficiency, as well as the likely costs and savings for any work carried out. Once issued, the EPC is valid for ten years, after which time it should be renewed.

Key areas of focus for EPC assessors are:

  • How well-insulated the loft, flooring and walls are
  • Whether windows are single, double or triple-glazed
  • How energy-efficient the boiler, plumbing and radiators are
  • When the property was built and the structure and materials used
  • Whether any electrical heat sources (such as plug-in radiators or fan heaters) are being used
  • Whether modern, energy-efficient lightbulbs are installed
  • The general air-tightness of the home

All of this data will be gathered and entered into a system which will calculate the overall grade for your property. The grades run from G, which is the lowest, up to A, which is the highest.

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How do you find your EPC?

It’s easy to misplace documents. If you can’t find your EPC or you’re unsure whether your property has one, these links will help you search for your property in the register of issued EPCs for England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

How do you book an energy assessment?

If you’re renting or selling your property, you’ll need a valid EPC certificate. If you’ve done work on your property which has improved the energy-efficiency, you may wish to conduct a new assessment so that your certificate reflects actual performance. An assessment can cost up to £120, but the price will be lower than that for most buildings. You’ll probably get a better price if you book directly rather than through an estate agent.

The websites listed above can also help you find an accredited energy assessor in your local area in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

 

What if you rent a listed building?

Because listed buildings have some limitations around what can or can’t be changed, there are some exemptions to the ordinary rules. That said, you still need to meet certain minimum requirements and the only way to find out what they are is to have an energy assessment carried out.

While some options such as double-glazing won’t be an option for listed buildings, there are improvements that can be made that won’t affect the building’s aesthetics, such as installing a modern boiler and draught-proofing.

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New energy performance certificate: Keeping your property green

 

How can you improve your EPC rating? 

EPCs not only tell you how energy efficient your property is, they also include tips on how you can improve on its performance. So if you want to improve your EPC rating, checking out your EPC is a good place to start.

There are countless things that landlords can do to improve the energy-efficiency of their rental property. These improvements not only save your tenants’ money, they make your property more appealing, which reduces the likelihood of void periods and may allow you to increase the rent. 

Energy-efficiency has never been higher on our list of priorities as a society, so investing in your rental property’s energy-efficiency is likely to be money well spent.

Here’s a list of key areas you might choose to invest in if you want to improve your EPC rating:

  • Replace glass in windows and doors with double or even triple-glazing
  • Insulate the loft, walls and floors with modern, high-quality insulation 
  • Replace your old boiler with a new, more efficient model
  • Upgrade all light bulbs to LED light bulbs
  • Install low-flush toilets and water-saving showers
  • Make sure all white goods and appliances are modern and come with ‘eco’ or ‘energy-saving’ modes

Energy-efficiency is becoming more and more important to tenants and regulators. As mentioned earlier, landlords who rent properties which don’t meet the minimum requirements run the risk of receiving a financial penalty of up to £4,000. 

If you’re looking for more information on how to improve the energy-efficiency of your rental property, you can find detailed advice on every aspect of creating a more sustainable rental property in our article, ‘How to create the dream home for eco-friendly tenants’. Our legislation guide also provides more information on how complying with MEES fits with the other recent legislative changes landlords are facing.

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