We have set out below some important changes to the law that will soon be taking, or have recently taken, effect and of which landlords and/or their managers of residential properties should be aware:-

  • The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (Part 1 & 2)

As from 1 April 2016, Parts 1 & 2 of these Regulations will enable a tenant of a domestic private rented property to request (in writing) their landlord’s consent to them making a “relevant energy efficiency improvement” to the property. The cost of the proposed improvement must be borne by the tenant or from central government funding; importantly, the improvement must be at no cost to the landlord. The landlord must then provide its initial response to the proposal within one month from receiving the request. The landlord must not unreasonably withhold its consent although it may propose alternative energy efficiency measures. If the landlord fails to respond in time, or there is any dispute, then the tenant may apply to the First Tier Tribunal for the matter to be determined.

  • The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 (Part 3)

As from 1 October 2016, Part 3 of these Regulations will come into effect and will apply to both domestic and non-domestic private rented property. Part 3 provides that from 1 April 2018 a landlord may only grant a new tenancy (including a renewal) of a property that has an EPCrating of at least “E”.

Landlords will be exempt from reaching this minimum standard where they can evidence that one of the following applies to any energy efficiency improvements that may be required to improve the rating:-

  1. The improvements are not cost effective – detailed definition provisions exist which differs for domestic and non-domestic property.
  2. If, after reasonable efforts, the landlord cannot obtain the necessary consents to install the improvements – including from tenants, lenders and superior landlords.
  3. An independent surveyor provides a report that the measures will reduce the value of the property, or the building of which it forms part, by more than 5%. This could potentially relate to buildings that are listed.

Landlords seeking to rely on an exemption must register that exemption on the PRS (Private Rented Sector) Exemptions Register, maintained by the Secretary of State. Exemptions will last five years. After that time the landlord must comply or demonstrate a new exemption.

  • The Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014

From 31 December 2016, these Regulations will oblige a landlord to install meters to measure the supply of heating, cooling and hot water to each individual occupier of their property unless it is not technically feasible and cost-effective to do so. If it is not feasible to do so, then the Regulations require the landlord to install heat cost allocators and thermostatic radiator valves on each room heating radiator in order to determine and enable the control of the consumption of heating by each individual property, together with a hot water meter (but again only where it is cost effective and technically feasible to do so).

The part of the Heat Network (Metering and Billing) Regulations 2014 that apply to “district” and “communal” heating came into force on 20 April 2015. These oblige landlords of buildings containing more than one tenant where heating, cooling or hot water is supplied centrally. The regulations apply to both commercial and residential properties, although in slightly different ways.

Affected landlords must have registered with the National Measurement Office by 31 December 2015. Registration requires the provision of complex technical information about the property. There are civil penalties for non-compliance and breach of these regulations can, in certain circumstances, be a criminal offence.