With the confusion and panic surrounding coronavirus in the months since March 2020, landlords might have completely forgotten about the new EPC rules that came into place on April 1st.

These new rules were just one extra step in the government’s pledge to dramatically reduce carbon emissions over the next few decades and state that all tenancies from April 1st 2020 onwards must meet the new requirements and be certified E or above. Previously, the regulations only applied for a new tenancy but now the law has been extended.

So, if you have taken your foot off the accelerator as far as your hands-on landlord duties are concerned and are just now starting to think about dipping your toes back in the water, you might want to first consider whether or not your properties are compliant with the new EPC regulations. You could be saving yourself a monumental headache later on.

Your EPC certificate explained

An EPC certificate is required by law for all properties, whether owned, rented, or otherwise. It’s awarded after a relatively simple assessment that grades your home from G to A depending on how energy-efficient it is.

In 2020, the average home is a D, falling somewhere in the middle and this is the absolute minimum that landlords should be aiming for.

During an assessment, an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor will conduct checks on your windows, insulation, lighting, and heating and then offer you both a grade and a detailed list of ways to improve that grade.

Are there any penalties for non-compliance?

In short, yes. All MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard) regulations are now enforceable by local authorities at any time.

If you’re found in breach of those regulations and the problems are not rectified, then a financial penalty up to £5,000 per property can be issued up to 18 months after the breach. It’s certainly not something to be taken lightly.

Of course, there are exemptions in situations where it’s not possible to boost the rating due to external factors, but these are few and far between.

Generally speaking, if they are found in breach, landlords are required by law to spend anywhere up to £3,500 to bring their properties up to standards.

It could be seen as a pretty harsh move on the government’s part, but they aim to have most private rented homes up to a C rating by 2030, so the tactics are understandable.

Home improvements to boost your EPC rating

Affordable improvements for boosting an EPC rating typically include the following:

  • Sealing air leaks in the home and adding insulation in the loft and in cavity walls to help the home retain heat better.
  • Improve your heating system – either by upgrading your boiler, or replacing your boiler with an air source heat pump.
  • Replace windows with either double glazing or single glazing.
  • Upgrade the property lighting to more modern LED lights.
  • Invest in more energy-efficient appliances and water heating equipment.

Of course, all upgrades are going to require the employment of a professional electrical, plumbing or heating engineer and will be dependent on the property itself. Grade 2 listed buildings, for example, are notoriously difficult when it comes to any major alterations.

If you want to be a responsible landlord in 2020 and beyond though, you’re going to need to start thinking about energy expenditure not as an afterthought but as a major consideration. Because the world is heading in a greener direction and you don’t want to be left behind.