EPC’s – Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards – MEES

As of April 2018 landlords cannot agree a new lease for a property with an EPC rating of less than grade E.  From 2023 the regulations stipulate that no landlord can have an existing lease in place with a rating of less than grade E.

Whilst there is a soft start to this legislation the 2023 trigger is more onerous and if landlords are caught letting a property with an EPC of less than a grade E then they will be fined and put onto a ‘name and shame register’.  The proposed fines will be punitive and will depend on the property but figures being suggested range from £5000 to £150,000.

Landlords should also be warned that they should not be complacent if their property currently achieves and EPC grade E or above as some may not be accurate.  Whilst EPC’s are not new, historically some have been poorly prepared.  Such EPC’s have included too many assumptions and default values which could have had a negative impact on the EPC results making them inaccurate.  In addition, whilst EPC’s last for 10 years, those currently over 7 years old are typically ignored by legal teams and those over 5 year are deemed to be unreliable.  This is due to the fact  that the algorithms used to calculate the EPC’s have been adjusted to reflect changes in Building Regulations and current industry standards so this impacts on EPC results achieved.  The outcome of such changes is that a property with an EPC grade D prepared over 7 years ago, if retested, may for example only now attain a grade F and fail to achieve the minimum standard.  Such failures to achieve the minimum EPC may not only be because the calculations have changed but also because building elements, in particular building services installations, have become less energy efficient with age which effects the EPC results.

Whilst reaching and EPC grade E is the critical benchmark for the foreseeable future this level may be lifted to a higher grade in years to come.  It is therefore recommended that early consideration be given to plan for the essential works required to achieve the minimum requirements to comply with legislation.

There are exemptions for compliance with the standards but these are limited.  This legislation has significant implications for landlords who are responsible for ensuring their buildings comply with the legislation so early action is advisable.

Fire Safety in a Commercial Property

After the devastating incident at Grenfell Tower, it’s come to light that a number of properties do not contain sufficient fire-safety systems to protect their inhabitants in the event of a fire. While the emphasis is on saving lives in a domestic setting, industrial and commercial property should not be overlooked.

Fire safety in non-domestic premises is the responsibility of landlords, owners, employers, occupiers and site managers. If you hold one of these positions you are known as a “responsible person”, and must work together to ensure security of everyone on the premises. This includes any site with public access, any workplace, and any communal area of a multi-occupied residence.

Responsible persons are obliged to:

• Conduct regular fire risk assessments of the property
• Inform staff about identified risks
• Install and maintain suitable fire safety measures, including emergency plans
• Train and inform staff about steps to take in the event of a fire

Any commercial building must contain an evacuation plan, demonstrating unobstructed escape routes and sufficient exits for the number of people exiting the building. Consider the steps required to assist those with limited mobility, such as the infirm, elderly, disabled and children – ensure staff or residents understand how they can evacuate these people in an emergency.

The appropriate installations for properties will vary depending on construction and use. A review of installations for all buildings should be undertaken periodically, or when any changes are made to a building. At Tim Greenwood & Associates, we offer a range of property compliance surveys to help you ensure your building meets the property safety regulations.

Following on from the Grenfell Tower fire, the RICS has set up a panel of industry professionals who have recently met and agreed their terms. The panel will review the comments and concerns made by industry professionals and report back to industry groups and the UK Government so the feedback and the recommendations that come from it are awaited.

If you are found to have unmanaged fire risks on your property, you may be given an informal or formal notice to amend your safety procedures or make alterations to the observed risks; failing to do so may result in fines or a custodial sentence.

For more information, visit the Government information page, or contact your local fire safety department.