In February 2015, we reported on Regulations introduced by the Government to prohibit the letting of commercial properties in England and Wales rated F or G on their Energy Performance Certificates ("EPC"s) (see our blog post here). With some exceptions, these Regulations, known as the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard ("MEES"), affect the majority of commercial leases. The Regulations will come into force from 1 April 2018 for new leases (including lease renewals) and 1 April 2023 for all leases. "Sub-standard properties" is the new label that will attach to properties with an energy efficiency rating below E.
There are two recent developments for landlords to be aware of:
- Government guidance on the MEES Regulations has recently been published; and
- The opening date for the centralised self-certification register known as the PRS Exemptions Register ("PER") has been delayed.
New Government guidance
We now have Government guidance addressed to landlords and enforcement authorities which puts flesh on the bones of the MEES Regulations. The guidance contains a lot of useful, practical information, particularly about registering the exemptions. We have prepared an ebulletin analysing the impact of this new guidance, which can be found here. This ebulletin considers: the tenancies to which MEES applies; what is required of landlords under the Regulations; the various exemptions that are available to landlords; the application of the Regulations to buildings that are listed or in conservation areas; and the relationship between voluntary EPCs and MEES. All in all, we believe that the guidance has provided some welcome clarification but also created unnecessary confusion on a couple of important issues: we wait to see how implementation of the PER progresses.
PRS Exemptions Register
Exemptions are available to landlords to enable them to let, or continue to let, sub-standard properties provided that they have registered details and evidence of the exemption on the PER. The PER was expected to open on 1 April 2017 but this date has been put back to 1 October 2017. In the meantime, the PER is currently being piloted and landlords may register exemptions from 1 April 2017 as part of the pilot.