18 Jan 2022

Cotswold council, using cash from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, is targeting properties that fall below the minimum legal energy performance rating.

The authority is offering practical help and support for non-compliant landlords, including a free energy survey, if booked before the end of March.

“An apparently helpful scheme by a council one would at once think,” said Phil Turtle, compliance director with Landlord Licensing & Defence, “unfortunately, any landlord taking this advice will put themselves on the council’s radar and database for follow-up enforcement action if they don’t do the recommended works.  Wise landlords will take private advice and stay as far away from the Housing Police as possible.”

Under the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, any privately rented property, whether let on an assured or regulated tenancy, must have a valid Energy Performance Certificate. 

Last updated in April 2020, the regulations now make it unlawful to let a property that has an EPC rating of below an ‘E’ and landlords must take remedial steps to bring any failing property up to standard unless it is registered exempt.

Robert Weaver, council chief executive, says: “Most of us will have heard the recent news stories about rising fuel prices and for tenants living in sub-standard properties that are difficult to keep warm, this is a real worry – particularly at this time of year. 

“While most privately rented properties are up to standard, we know some landlords may not be fully aware of their obligations when it comes to home energy performance and their tenants’ rights. 

The free surveys, supported by a package of help and advice, will give landlords all the information they need about what they need to do to become compliant along with guidance from experts about the best energy saving measures to implement, whether that be fitting cavity or loft insulation or replacing gas boilers with low carbon alternatives such as heat pumps.”

Under the current rules, landlords are not obligated to spend more than £3,500 on retrofitting energy performance improvements, even if their property then fails to make the grade. Modifications that cost more than the cap, may, in some cases, attract grant-funding meaning that landlords can make greater improvements, which protect the long-term fabric of their properties and increase their desirability to the rental market, but need pay only a fraction of the cost.

Energy surveys, undertaken by Severn Wye Energy Agency on behalf of Cotswold council, will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and will include a report giving tailored recommendations and costings on how to bring the property up to the legal requirements.

Landlords in breach of the regulations and who fail to bring their properties up to the required minimum standards or to apply for a temporary exemption, could face a penalty of up to £5,000 for each property that does not meet the MEES criteria.

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