Agents are being warned that under legislative changes, all rental flats in listed buildings may have to have their own valid Energy Performance Certificates – even if they simply prove that the individual property is exempt.
Without an individual EPC and/or exemption certificate in place, landlords could be fined up to £5,000 per property.
Landlords and agents have just six weeks to comply where local authorities are making this interpretation of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards.
The MEES, requiring a minimum EPC rating of E, have applied to newly let properties since April 2018. From this April 1, MEES regulations apply to all privately rented residential properties.
However, listed buildings with rental flats within them have given rise to contradiction and muddle.
One owner of a flat in a listed building has been told by his agent that new tenants due to take up occupation this month cannot be moved in until it either has its own EPC or exemption certificate.
The building itself is exempt from having to have an EPC but the landlord, Adam Walker, has been told that a blanket exemption is no longer enough.
Owners of flats in listed buildings who do not issue their new tenants with an EPC are also being warned that they may forfeit the ability to serve a Section 21.
Walker’s agent, Webbers, has advised against the risk of trying to place new tenants into a rental property now that will be in breach of the rules in only six weeks time.
Walker says that in his flat, an EPC rating of E would be impossible to obtain, as it would require improvements specifically forbidden when renovations to the listed building were signed off only last year.
He has also been advised that the best way of getting the alternative, an exemption certificate, is to get an EPC carried out.
However in our enquiries, EYE has found that the situation is unclear, with conflicting advice about rental properties within listed buildings.
A spokesperson for trade body the Property Energy Professionals Association (PEPA), said: “There has never been clarity about any general exemption for listed buildings from the need to procure an EPC, and there is differing guidance from different organisations.
“In strict terms the regulations say that such buildings are exempt in so far as compliance with the minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance.
“Clearly this could not be assessed without an EPC being procured.
“PEPA’s guidance has always been that an EPC should be procured as the landlord is taking a risk by not doing so.
“The landlord also stands to lose their Section 21 possession rights (as long as these continue to exist) if they have not handed the tenant a valid EPC prior to occupation.”
The spokesperson went on: “The MEES regulations require that a rented property should have a minimum EPC rating of E unless a property specific exemption has been granted and recorded on the exemptions register.
“Without an EPC it would not be possible to claim exemption from making the necessary energy efficiency enhancements (on an F or G rated property) without first procuring an EPC.
“It would be PEPA’s view that the lettings agent in this case is taking a prudent and justified stance.”
EYE also asked the Association of Residential Letting Agents for its views.
It told us: “Throughout the implementation of MEES we have had enquiries relating to listed buildings.
“Each issue must be taken on a case by case basis.
“Based on the Government’s guidance, if the property does not need an EPC then the MEES requirements are not applicable.
“Furthermore, where the rules are applicable but changes to comply would significantly alter the appearance of the property, then an EPC is not required.
“If agents are in any doubt it is advisable that they contact the conservation officer and/or planning department at the local authority.”
One architect responsible for a large number of properties likely to be affected said that local authorities are “salivating at the prospect of £5,000 fines”.
Walker said: “This really is an absolute shambles. We have just six weeks to comply, and have only just been told about it.”
There is government advice here – but Walker warns that it has been of little help to him: