Landlords’ guide to understanding MEES

The new MEES (Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards)  mean that a landlord cannot renew or grant tenancies of longer than six months if their property does not meet strict minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) standards. Failure to comply, and if the EPC rating of a property is an ‘F’ or lower, means that landlords are liable to pay a substantial fine.

Penalties between £1,000 and £5,000 for domestic properties and £5000-£150,000 for non-domestic properties could be imposed.

Initially applying to domestic and non-domestic lettings and lease renewals, surprisingly only one third of UK landlords are aware of the new MEES rules. With enforcement set to begin from next month, it is essential that changes are made to failing properties now to avoid hefty penalties. MEES is set to apply to all privately rented residential property from 2020 and to all existing non-domestic leases by 1st April 2023. So how do landlords successfully navigate the standards to future proof their property?

 

The basics
MEES are based on an EPC rating of E and above – any property which is graded as an F or G will be considered unlawful to let, unless significant improvements are made to improve its energy efficiency. Properties which need to meet these standards include any domestic privately rented property, with only a few possible exemptions, including some listed buildings.
While likely to be seen by many as an inconvenience, MEES offers several opportunities for landlords. For those with non-compliant properties, there is an opportunity to potentially increase market and rental value following energy efficiency upgrades, with tenants also benefiting from reduced energy requirements and lower bills.

EPC education
A standard EPC test costs between £60 and £120. MEES is based on EPC ratings, so it is essential that landlords carry out energy assessments to determine a property’s correct rating. Estimations revealing that nearly 70% of these are currently incorrect – largely due to changes in the assessment practice. Carried out by a professional, EPC ratings are determined following a detailed survey of a building; this includes estimating its total energy and CO2 outputs, as well as assessing heating systems, insulation and windows, with a final grade provided between A-G.

Insulation matters

Several courses of action can be taken to improve a property’s EPC rating, ranging from the replacement of doors, windows or lights, to introducing a more efficient secondary heating source, such as electric heaters. However, where a rating is particularly poor, a larger investment may be required to address the fabric of a building.

Insulation plays a vital role in achieving a positive EPC rating. A poorly insulated property can potentially lose up to 33% of its heat through its roof. For landlords, insulation materials need to be evaluated based on several crucial factors, including lifespan and ease of installation. Flexible materials such as spray foam or mineral wool are usually simple to retrofit; spray foam requires only a hole in the wall for applying it into the cavity of an empty room, such as a loft.

Materials with long lifespans are unlikely to require further investment and disruption in future, and high performing materials significantly improve efficiency and occupant comfort. Materials such as TLX Gold Multifoil can be fitted from a building’s exterior, removing the need for internal access, or raising of a roof.

Up to five times thinner than traditional forms of insulation, multifoil is also an ideal solution for smaller rooms or spaces. Achieving the same performance as its thicker counterparts, multifoil insulation ensures a comfortable internal environment all year round, with its  reflective surface acting as a barrier to thermal transfer. This can result in significant energy savings.

Multi-Layer Foil Insulation SF40 by SuperFOIL is also a good choice for roofs, walls and floors. Offering enhanced thickness combined with radiant reflective and air barrier properties, it provides benefits over traditional open-face insulation like glass fibre. Used on its own or combined with other insulations, it can achieve any U-value. Easy to install and with little wastage, it’s also an eco-friendly choice, produced from 40% recycled materials.

As an additional consideration, when selecting insulation for use in residential buildings with multiple occupants, insulation should also be chosen based on its acoustic performance qualities. Materials should impede the transmission of sound through a structure. Rockwool’s acoustic slab, made from volcanic rock, traps soundwaves and dampens vibrations, and is easy to install around fittings and fixtures. Stone installation also provides exceptional fire performance qualities – a necessity in any residential or commercial building.