The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), are legal energy-related standards for buildings that are set out and enforced by the Government. MEES means a landlord cannot renew or grant a new tenancy of longer than 6 months if a property has a low EPC rating. This article will explore the details of MEES and it’s important impact.
What is an EPC Rating?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) measures how energy efficient a property is. The property is assessed, with a focus on things like heating systems, insulation, and the effectiveness of draught-proofing. The property is then given a rating between A and G. The more energy-efficient a property, the closer to A in the alphabet the rating will be. Within MEES regulations, a property with a rating of F or lower means the landlord is liable to pay a substantial fine. An EPC report is issued alongside the rating which provides energy-saving suggestions on ways to improve your property’s rating.
When Was MEES Introduced?
MEES was introduced in March 2015 by the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) Regulations 2015 and first came into action in April 2018. From the 1st of April 2018, the regulations apply to the granting of a new lease and the renewal of existing leases. From 1st April 2023, MEES will be extended to cover all leases, including leases which are already in place.
The Reasons for MEES?
Lowering energy demand is good for the environment. The built environment massively contributes to the number of carbon emissions produced in a country. The British government, therefore, recognised that if the UK’s housing stock is more energy-efficient they will better be able to reach their carbon reduction targets. The UK Government committed in 1990 to reduce carbon emissions by 57% by 2030 and has been working hard to achieve that goal. So while Building Regulations ensure that any new properties meet the current energy efficiency standards, MEES will tackle older buildings throughout England and Wales.
And although enforced home improvements may not be ideal for landlords, it will add value to their property. Many tenants and property developers will often carefully consider the EPC rating of a property before renting or buying it.
Which Properties Does MEES Apply to?
The buildings and tenancies that fall within the scope of MEES is not always straightforward. MEES does not apply to any buildings which are not required to have an EPC (such as industrial sites, workshops, low-energy demanding non-residential agricultural buildings, certain listed buildings, temporary properties, and holidays lets). MEES penalties also do not apply to buildings where the EPC is over 10 years old or where there is no EPC. Tenancies of less than 6 months and over 99 years are also both not viable for MEES penalties.
There are some exemptions to MEES penalities. Landlords will be exempt from having to comply with MEES regulations if they can demonstrate that all cost-effective energy efficiency improvements have been carried out. Landlords are also exempt if consent to make improvements is refused by a third party (such as by Local Authorities or an incumbent tenant). If it can be proven by a suitably qualified expert that the improvements would damage or devalue the property by 5% or more then exemption from MEES is applicable. Any exemptions last for five years and need to be recorded on a Government register.
What are the MEES Penalties?
The MEES Regulations are enforced by Local Weights and Measures Authorities (LWMAs). LWMAs will have the ability to impose civil penalties which are determined by the property’s value. The penalty for renting a property for fewer than three months that is in breach of MEES Regulations will be equivalent to 10% of the property’s value, with a maximum amount of £50,000 and a minimum penalty of £5,000. After three months, the penalty rises to 20% of the property’s value, with a maximum amount of £150,000 and a minimum penalty of £10,000. Where MEES Regulations are breached, the lease as between the landlord and the tenant remains valid and in force.
As this article demonstrated, MEES and EPC ratings are very important considerations for landlords and homeowners. They have a substantial impact on the environment and the environmental goals of the UK government. We hope this article helped you better understand their significant role and the details of their workings!