The Energy Act and MEES
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) requirements have arisen out of the Energy Act 2011. This Act produced the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 which initially meant that from April 2016 domestic tenants could request energy efficient improvements to be made to their properties by their landlords.
The next step for MEES was to set out minimum Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings and regulations were amended in 2016 to set out the requirement where from April 1st 2018 all properties are to have a minimum EPC rating of an E.
Crucially, the Standards apply to all domestic and now commercial leases which are new, renewing or being extended.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard Rating is E and above.
Do I need an EPC, and therefore do MEES apply?
You do not need an EPC if your building falls under one of the following:
- The building is temporary and only going to be used for 2 years or less
- A place of worship
- An industrial building that uses a very low amount of energy
- A small detached building which is under 50m2 floor area
- The building is due be demolished by the seller or landlord
If any of the above applies, then the building should be exempt from the MEES.
Landlords could be exempt from the MEES regulations if any of the following apply.
- The energy efficiency improvement works required to achieve the minimum E rating would not pay for themselves over a seven-year period
- A third party such as the local council object to the works
- The proposed works reduce the building’s rental value by more than 5%
- The required energy efficiency improvements damage the property
- The property is let under a long lease of more 99 years (however a sub tenancy would not qualify)
- The property is let under a short-term tenancy lease of less than 6 months
MEES Exemptions Process
If you are a landlord and are unsure if your property should be exempt from the MEES regulations, you can apply to the PRS exemption register. The exemptions only last for five years.
Listed Buildings EPCs
There is widespread belief that EPCs are not required for listed buildings, as any energy efficiency works would likely cause harm to the building. However, the subject is both ambiguous and case-dependent.
The main government statement with regards to listed buildings is that they are exempt from providing an EPC “insofar as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance” and that “you should get advice from your local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building’s character”:
There is guidance on both the Government and Historic England websites on the EPC requirements which states that “January 2013 listed buildings have been exempted from the need to have an EPC”, see:
However, the wider picture is discussed in THE NON-DOMESTIC PRIVATE RENTED PROPERTY MINIMUM STANDARD (Guidance for landlords and enforcement authorities on the minimum level of energy efficiency required to let non-domestic property under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015) where it states:
Listed Buildings and EPC Compliance
There is a common misunderstanding relating to listed buildings and whether they are exempt from the requirement to obtain an EPC. Listed properties, and buildings within a conservation area, will not necessarily be exempt from the requirement to have a valid EPC and it will be up to the owner of a listed building to understand whether or not their property is required to have an EPC. Where a listed privately rented non-domestic property, or a property within a conservation area, is required to have an EPC, that property will be within scope of the minimum energy efficiency standards. As noted at 1.3.3 above, an EPC is not currently required for a listed property or building within a conservation area when it is sold or rented in so far as compliance with minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter its character or appearance. Examples of energy performance measures which may alter character or appearance (or as a minimum are likely to require local authority planning permission to install on a listed building) include external solid wall insulation, replacement glazing, solar panels, or an external wall mounted air source heat pump. Where character or appearance would not be altered by compliance with energy performance requirements, an EPC may be legally required. If an owner or occupier of a listed building is unsure about whether their particular property is or is not required to have an EPC, appropriate advice should be sought at the earliest opportunity.
Therefore, it would be safe to say that the context of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards and requirements for EPCs on listed buildings must be carefully worked through. Advice should always be sought from the relevant local authority conservation officer if the work would alter the building’s character and the guidance for registration of exemptions followed to ensure you comply with the regulations.
Who enforces the MEES regulations?
The domestic property regulations will be enforced by Local Authorities.
The non-domestic property regulations will be enforced by Local Weights and Measures Authorities.
Penalties and Fines for MEES Non-compliance
If the local authority and for commercial building the Local Weights and Measures authority believes that a building is not compliant with MEES, then the authority can serve a notice to the landlord.
Penalties can cost the landlord up to a maximum of £5000 or up to 10% of the rateable value of the property (whichever is greater) within 3 months of the breach. Or if going over 3 months, this can go up to £10,000 or 20% of the rateable value with a maximum of £150,000.
Where false or misleading information is provided or failing to comply with a compliance notice then a further fine of up to £5000 can apply. This is known as the publication of non-compliance.
A further penalty can also be applied under one of the following, where there is a change in a tenant or a regulatory backstop applies.
Ref: The Non-Domestic Private Rented Property Minimum Standards Report (February 2015), by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy