With the constant dangers of global warming constantly looming over us, there are more and more requirements to make the planet a greener place to live on. Now, when you enter the property market as a buy-to-let investor, your main priority is to create a house that will make you money and not necessarily to support a ‘Save the planet’ scheme; although the longevity of the earth is still very important. However, buy-to-let investments are now being heavily scrutinized and rental properties must now comply with the new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations which are being rolled out on 1st April 2018. If your properties do not meet the energy efficient related regulations and fall into an EPC bracket lower than E come April 2018, you could face hefty fines, problems with the law and a restriction on letting out your property.
If you are a landlord that is worried about not meeting the new criteria, below are some of the main ways to improve your rating and make sure you avoid fines of between £5,000 and £150,000…
- Increase loft insulation to 270mm
- Internal or external wall insulation
- High heat retention storage heaters and dual immersion cylinder
- Replace single glazed windows with double glazed windows
Before you do begin improvements, it is important to get an EPC review carried out, as you don’t want to be wasting money on improvements you do not need. But, with the improvements listed above you would be fall into the C category within the EPC, but to pass the grade you would only be required to perform the top 2. Furthermore, if you are still concerned about the new regulations, it would be wise to talk to a local energy assessment agency, a TSO or a property solicitor. Howell Jones solicitors are extremely respected within the industry and one of their members, Vishalee Amin, had the following to say…
“Exemptions may be made for certain types of properties via secondary legislation. Trading Standards Officers will enforce the rules for commercial properties; the precise level of fines will also be part of this secondary legislation.”
Now, this leads me onto potential exemptions, as there are cases in which you can avoid penalties even if your property falls below the necessary E rating. So, if the required improvements would cause damage and decrease the value of the house by more than 5%, you can’t source the consent needed from your tenants to complete the necessary work or you simply cannot afford the improvements even with the seven year payback or Green Deal’s Golden Rule schemes, you will be granted an exemption.
With so many homes within the UK currently in energy efficiency categories below E, it would probably cause a spike in rental costs to accommodate for all the money being spent by landlords on the improvements. But, there is still more than enough time to evaluate your buy-to-let properties and ensure you meet the new EPC regulations by 2018 in a cost-efficient way.