About MEES Regulations
Many Domestic Energy Assessors dealing with privately-rented dwellings would have noted increasing awareness of the upcoming Energy Efficiency Regulations; these are also known as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).
Firstly, we should be very clear that Domestic Energy Assessors are only remitted to produce a valid EPC, not necessarily to aid Landlords with any decisions they make. Landlords should take the majority of their queries to their trade associations, such as RLA.
This guide has been designed to give DEAs an overview of the Regulations to be able to help their clients with the basics of the new MEES Standards.
What properties are covered?
All privately-rented properties are under these Regulations, and these must reach a minimum EPC Rating of Band E (39 SAP points).
From 1st April 2018, Landlords will be unable to grant a new tenancy on a property which does not meet the minimum E standard. From 1st April 2020, this will extend to all tenancies. A valid Energy Performance Certificate would need to be provided to prove that the property meets the MEES minimum rating.
In certain instances, it will be possible for a property to receive an exemption from having to meet the E-Band efficiency standard, and thus be able to be rented out.
No Cost to Landlord
Prior to the release of the official guidance from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), a lot of landlords and assessors were worried about the impact that these Regulations would have.
In the immortal words of Douglas Adams, DON’T PANIC!!
Had landlords read the BEIS guidance on domestic MEES requirements, they would quickly realise that they have nothing really to worry about in terms of being able to continue to let their properties, as the guidance has given most of the power to the landlords.
The EPC recommendations only become ‘relevant’ in terms of the Regulations where there is a funding formula available, such as Green Deal, ECO etc. Where funding is not available, these recommendations do not need to be completed. Additionally, for recommendations such as external wall insulation, if the landlord can demonstrate expert advice that the recommendation is not practical for the dwelling, it too can be irrelevant for the Regulations and a five-year exemption applied for.
Below is an example from an F25 rated property:
Whilst there are a number of recommendations which would bring the dwelling up to the minimum band, and beyond. However, if the landlord can prove a lack of funding (Green Deal, ECO, local/central government) to cover the complete cost of purchase and installation of any of these recommendations, they can be excluded as ‘not relevant’ in terms of these Regulations. With no relevant recommendations to complete, the ‘substandard’ dwelling would be able to rented out using a five-year exemption.
Relevant Energy Efficiency Improvements Undertaken (Regulation 25)
In instances where a property does not meet the minimum MEES standard, but the Landlord has undertaken, and completed, the relevant efficiency improvements, or the EPC shows no recommended measures to be undertaken, it will be possible for the Landlord to apply for an exemption.
This will be a maximum exemption of five years from the date of application to the PRS Exemption Register, at which point the Landlord would need to re-apply with an up-to-date Certificate.
Consent Exemption (Regulation 31)
This exemption will be applied where, in the preceding five years, the Landlord has been unable to increase the dwelling’s rating as a result of:
- Tenant refusing consent;
- Third-party consent has been refused, or applies a condition which the Landlord cannot reasonably comply with.
Devaluation Exemption (Regulation 32)
This can be applied for where, in the preceding five years, the Landlord has been unable to increase the dwelling’s rating as a result of an independent surveyor’s report that undertaking the relevant energy efficiency improvements would reduce the market value of the property by more than 5%.
Temporary Exemptions (Regulation 33)
Where a new Landlord takes over a property for rental, they will be able to apply for a temporary six month exemption from meeting the minimum MEES standards.
PRS Exemptions Register
Landlords will need to provide details of the property they wish to apply a MEES exemption for to a national Register, who will review the documentary evidence (EPC, planning refusal etc), and validate the exemption. An exemption must be registered before the property can be rented.
Again, the remit of the Domestic Energy Assessor is solely related to the production of a valid Energy Performance Certificate, and the recommendations within it. Should a Landlord query whether they are entitled to an exemption, or the impact these MEES Regulations have on their ability to let a property, these should be directed to the Landlord’s trade association who will be able to provide appropriate expert legal advice.
DCLG have recently released stats that explain the extent of those who will be affected by this new initiative. In England & Wales, 20%-25% of commercial & residential properties in England match or drop below the minimum energy efficiency standards.
The Government has also announced their aim to raise the minimum standard to a D rating by 2025 and a C rating by 2030.
What should assessors be advising?
We should make it clear the landlords are ultimately responsible for anything they wish to do with their property. The requirement of the Energy Assessor is provide as accurate an EPC as possible within the framework of the current methodology and Conventions; any questions about exemptions, next steps, etc, should be taken by the landlord in consultation with their trade body and trading standards.
Please see below for a complete Regulations and if you have any further questions, please contact Quidos Technical Support on firstname.lastname@example.org.