In 2011, The Energy Act was founded, which imparted responsibility on the Secretary of State to improve the energy efficiency of privately rented property in the domestic and non-domestic sectors in England and Wales. In 2015, the Energy Efficiency Regulations were set in place to introduce a “Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard” (MEES). This hasn’t been that wildly publicised as for example, the plans for a tenant fee ban (referring to the government’s plans to abolish tenant fees altogether), nationwide.
For anybody that hasn’t yet heard of the energy changes – it is an act which will affect buy-to-let landlords – and in extension letting agencies; and indirectly affect tenants in the coming years. It states that a property for rent must meet the minimum requirement of an E grade energy performance. This means that if you have an F or G graded property; then your property will be prohibited from letting until changes are made to meet the new minimum requirements.
So is this something for us to rejoice about? Or is this another figurative slap in the face for landlords, after the onslaught of additional expenses incurred, through stamp duty and changes to mortgage interest tax relief? With the changes to tenant admin fees, is this going to have a drastic effect on the housing rental market?
(In my opinion and those of my esteemed colleagues these other changes will definitely have some form of an impact; however, I can say that we wholeheartedly support the up-coming changes.)
From our perspective, being a student accommodation specialist letting agency, our focus being to provide a service that ensures that both landlords and tenants are happy during their time with us; we have in all the years we have managed properties ever come across an E graded property, I’m sure they exist out there but we are yet to see one.
Speaking of the Coventry student property rental market; I can say that the majority of properties range from E-C grade – which would mean that these would be unaffected by the changes. So what does this tell you about the outcome of the amendment? There is clearly a subset where this is a primary concern, and seems to be one of those quality of life fixes – but ultimately it’s not anything that a landlord should be worried about. As for tenants, you get the reassurance that you have a form of protection which ensures your house meet a set universal standard. We tend to pick and choose landlords in order to work with those who believe in our ethics and approach.
Having spent time in life as a tenant, both privately and through an agency – and then to be working in an agency – it gives a very open outlook on the market and the different parties involved. But ultimately, what I dislike the most is the general opinion of the public on landlords and letting agencies – my ambition with Studentcircle Lettings is to work to dismiss this very notion that they are all out there to drain you of every penny and skimp as much as possible. I would be naïve to suggest this isn’t out there at all (and one of the very reasons the company was founded was because of this very concept) – however we strive to try and balance out the scales so people know that you can have a good experience with some landlords and particularly agencies.
All in all, I can say that this is (only) a positive change. While I see it as having at best a very minor impact on our own practice, it is something that will improve the overall quality. The only change I would hope for from our government in the coming years, is some support for our landlords renting out, I am all for improving the quality of accommodation – and I think nurturing this and supporting an industry that affects everyone on a daily basis is the positive action we need.
Just a note – Energy Performance Certificates are made publicly available – and you can access them online at [https://www.epcregister.com/]; you only need to enter the postcode and find the correct address to download a pdf copy at any time.