From the 1st April 2016, new energy efficiency rules have come in to place for residential lettings, tenants are now able to ask permission from the landlord to carry out energy efficient improvements. The landlord is unable to unreasonably refuse consent, however it is the tenant that must cover the costs for the improvements following their request. Improvements include anything from improved insulations and replacement windows to solar water heating systems. These new rules apply to all landlords in England and Wales.

Landlord’s Responsibilities

No upfront costs must fall on the landlord, unless they have agreed to contribute, landlords must act promptly once a request is received with a period of 30 days to respond to the tenant. The new legislation states that the consent for the works must not be ‘unreasonably refused’, although there are some cases whereby the landlord does not need to consider the request. For Example if the energy efficient works would affect the house price of more than 5% decrease or if a previous tenant has made a request within the preceding six months and the landlord complied with their request. In addition, the tenant is not permitted to ask for any improvements if they are vacating within six months or there is an eviction process underway.

Tenants’ Rights

Tenants will have the right to request energy efficient improvements whether or not the property has an EPC rating. Tenants can take landlords to a tribunal if they believe they have not complied with the regulations. Tenants must prove they have adequate funds available to pay for any works requested. Following a request by a tenant, the landlord can make a counter-proposal by putting forward alternative energy efficiency measures and the tenant must consent to those works before they can be carried out.

Further Regulations

Separate regulations from April 2018 onwards state that a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of E will be required in all private rented accommodation. Landlords will be responsible for meeting these requirements and not the tenants. This means that Landlords with properties to let which have an Energy Performance Rating (EPC) of less than “E” will have to carry out works to improve the energy performance of the building to a rating of “E” or above or face financial penalties of up to £4,000. The Regulations will also make it unlawful for landlords to unreasonably refuse consent to a tenant’s request to make prescribed energy efficiency improvements to properties. It will become unlawful to grant new tenancies with an EPC rating of less than E; and in 2020 this will apply to all residential tenancies (both new and existing).

We would encourage all landlords to check their EPC ratings for their rental properties and start thinking about making improvements for energy efficiency. The certificates issued have recommendation reports attached and therefore it may be worthwhile taking action on these. If a landlord has made changes to the energy efficiency in a property then we would also suggest that the EPC is renewed.

 If you are a landlord and would like some support regarding the EPC on your residential property, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Published: April 6, 2016