From 1 April 2018 it will be unlawful to grant a tenancy of a private property with an EPC rating of below E unless an exemption applies. Landlords will only be able to rely on an exemption if they have registered it on the PRS Exemptions Register.
Regulations, delaying the date from which landlords can register an exemption have now been passed.
Will the delay to the launch of the register make any difference to landlords?
The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2016 came into force on 22 June 2016. Landlords of non-domestic private rented property will now not be able to register an exemption until 1 April 2017. Landlords of domestic properties will have to wait until 1 October 2017.
Previously the register had been expected to come into operation on 1 October 2016 for landlords of both domestic and non-domestic properties.
However, given that the prohibition on letting a property with an EPC rating of below E does not come in until 1 April 2018, it is unlikely that many landlords would have started to register exemptions as early as 1 October 2016. Doing so would start the 5 year period running earlier than was necessary.
These amendment regulations are unlikely to be the end of the story. They are merely a stop gap to enable the government to consider further amendments to The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (the MEES Regulations).
When the MEES Regulations were passed, Green Deal finance was available, and they were drafted on the assumption that this funding would be available to landlords of domestic properties. The MEES Regulations only oblige a landlord to carry out "relevant energy efficiency improvements".
For domestic properties, an improvement will only fit within the definition of "relevant energy efficiency improvement" if it can be financed at no cost to the landlord.
As Green Deal funding is no longer available, the number of cases in which improvement works can be financed at no cost to the landlord will be limited. Unless the MEES Regulations are amended, most landlords of domestic properties will be able to rely on an exemption.
We are likely to see further amendments to the MEES Regulations in the not too distant future.
Contributor: Alexandra Holsgrove Jones
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