As the date for the Government’s new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) approaches, consider making preparations to get a head start on obtaining that ideal Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating.
From 1st April, residential landlords will be required to have an EPC rating of E or higher, or risk a hefty fine. If your property is not quite up to standard as of yet, there are ways you can still make improvements.
The EPC rating of a property is produced by a Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) or Home Inspector (HI). They make a visit to the property and check the energy related features, taking into account their efficiency. To help give you a starting point on how to make your property more energy efficient, Just Landlords, the specialist landlord insurers, has put together a list of suggestions:
Ensuring your property has suitable insulation in any lofts and cavity walls will make a huge difference. Having this barrier helps to trap the hot air, with different types of insulation available depending on the space you want to fill. This means your tenants can save money on their energy bills, as the existing heat in the house will last longer, rather than escaping through the roof and walls. British Gas recommends a thickness of 270mm for it to have a decent effect.
An energy efficient boiler will also make a difference to the cost of heating your property, as well as increasing the EPC rating. An individual boiler will also have its own Energy Related Products (ErP) rating, as an aim to reduce carbon emissions. If in doubt when choosing a new boiler, check the ErP rating. A+++ is the best and G the worst.
Replace any incandescent light bulbs with ones that are energy efficient, such as LEDs. These can use 25-80% less energy, which will make a significant difference if you make this switch with every bulb in the property.
Again, this will save money in regards to energy bills, and the bulbs themselves last longer than ordinary ones. This is good news for your tenants, but ultimately will be up to them to maintain. However, even if previous tenants decide not to continue using these bulbs, you can make it part of your checklist when preparing a property for the next renters.
TOP TIP: Consider communicating with your tenants about the importance of turning off lights that are not being used, as an extra step towards maintaining an energy efficient property. You could also use a sensor or a timer for any external lights, to prevent them being left on accidentally.
Having modern double-glazing is another way of reducing heat loss. Double-glazed windows are made of two sheets of glass with a gap in between. This insulating barrier is what helps to keep the heat from escaping. There are different types of glass that can be used, but the most energy efficient is low emissivity (Low-E) glass. Gases such as argon, xenon or krypton are sometimes used to fill the gaps, making them even more efficient.
This can be such a simple change to make, but also makes a difference. Check around windows, doors, floorboards and ceiling-to-wall joints for areas that could be improved. You should also check around any loft hatches and pipework leading outside.
For buildings with fireplaces, make sure that any draught proofing does not affect the ventilation, as could be said for any rooms that may be at risk of excess moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen.
If you own properties that do not meet the expected standard of an E rating or above, as previously mentioned, you risk receiving a fine. The penalty can reach as high as £4,000 for non-compliance. This, and the amount of money you could potentially save your tenants make great incentives to visit your properties and consider any changes that could be made.
Consistently high EPC ratings amongst your portfolio would help to create a good name for yourself as a landlord, which would help attract more interest from reliable and trustworthy prospective tenants.
This is the latest instalment in our Just Landlords Series.