There could be chaos in the residential lettings market in rural parts of the UK due to uncertainty over how landlords need to comply with energy efficiency rules, it is suggested.
A Government consultation on the minimum level of energy efficiency in the private rented sector has recently opened but is due to close just two weeks before the rules come into force in April 2018.
Minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) mean that from 01 April 2018 it will be illegal for a private landlord to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant.
However, according to the Country Landowners Association (CLA), whose members provide around 40% of private rented homes in rural areas and who support the principles behind the MEES, time had run out for the Government to consult properly on changes and provide the right guidance to landlords.
‘The residential lettings market has been thrown into chaos because the Government has not left sufficient time to consult on necessary changes to the legislation and ensure landlords are given the correct guidance,’ said CLA president Tim Breitmeyer.
‘We have repeatedly called on the Government to revise the MEES regulations for the past two years but time is running out. Closing this consultation just two weeks before the rules take effect is really leaving landlords in the lurch,’ he pointed out.
He believes that properties could be taken off the rural rental market because some landlords will be unable to find the money needed to make energy improvements at such short notice.
He also pointed out that despite the poor timing of the consultation from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy it contained some sensible ideas to help landlords make homes energy efficient.
‘The proposed cost cap of £2,500 per property goes some way to help clarify and simplify the contribution a landlord must make. However, landlords who acted early to comply with MEES are penalised because only money spent after 01 October 2017 will count towards to the cap,’ said Breitmeyer.
‘We will be responding to the consultation to argue that any money spent improving a property since the regulations were first published in July 2015 should count towards it,’ he added.