New EPC regulations in effect from today for all rental properties

Date Published 01 April 2020

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"Today, Part Three of the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 comes into force.

Private sector landlords must not grant a new tenancy of a property (including an extension or renewal), nor continue to let the property (on an existing tenancy) after 1 April 2020, where the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is below the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented properties of band E.

Although it received publicity at the time of publication and several years have gone by since then, the likelihood is that many rental properties across England and Wales may fail to meet the new requirement. And with the country in lockdown there is very little chance that anything can be done to change that situation.

The Scottish government has taken a practical approach and on Monday it postponed implementation indefinitely.

In Scotland the new requirements would have started on October 1st 2020 but from today local authorities would have been tasked with developing a system to be ready to support landlords and enforce compliance.

If introduced at this time, these duties would place a burden on them which would be detrimental to their necessary focus on front line emergency responses to the COVID-19 crisis, and their delivery of vital services and support to vulnerable people.

In a letter to the convener of the Scottish Parliament's local government and communities committee, Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning announced the delay stating that 'given the current COVID-19 crisis, a decision has been made not to make the regulations.'

He went on to say: 'I am aware this is an unusual step, but these are very unusual and fast-moving times.'

Stewart ended his letter by saying: 'For these reasons, I firmly believe it would be unwise to bring the regulations into force from 1 April as planned. I can assure you that I will push forward with the vital work of improving energy efficiency in private rented housing as soon as the current COVID-19 situation comes to an end.'

EYE asked ARLA/propertymark whether it was appropriate for the implementation to proceed in England and Wales, whether it would have been better to postpone it, whether ARLA lobbied for a postponement, what effect it is likely to have on rental supply, and whether ARLA has any advice for landlords and agents who were not aware of the inclusion of existing tenancies and who now cannot reasonably do anything in the lockdown.

In a statement, David Cox, Chief Executive, ARLA Propertymark said 'Although we have asked the Government to postpone these regulations in England, it's unlikely they will do so. This is because the law was passed in 2014, meaning landlords and letting agents have had several years to meet this deadline. This, however, is very different to the electrical safety regulations which were passed last week and come into force in July, which we are lobbying the Government to postpone, as landlords and letting agents haven't had as much time to meet these requirements.'

Credit Eye Correspondent, April 1st 2020