Thursday, 30 October 2014

EPC Changes - Are you advising your buy to let clients about these?

The Energy Act 2011 contains a number of provisions which will affect owners and occupiers of property. 

Probably most significant are the proposed minimum energy standards. 

These changes will have a significant impact on the buy to let market and need to be considered now by not only investors, but also lawyers acting for those purchasing buy to let property.

From April 2018, the proposed legislative changes would make it unlawful to let residential or commercial properties with an EPC Rating of F or G (i.e. the lowest 2 grades of energy efficiency).

The significance of this which cannot be under estimated could mean that the marketability of certain properties would become impossible unless they were upgraded to meet the  minimum standards. It is estimated that approximately 20% of non-domestic properties could be in the F & G  rating brackets.

Although not clear at this stage the new minimum standards could apply to all lettings and re-lettings, including sub-lettings & assignments.

Valuations of such properties could be affected if their marketability is diminished and rent reviews for properties in this situation could also be affected. Š

Given this risk to property owners and occupiers it is clear that a full understanding of the energy efficiency of current and future acquisitions of buy to let property assets should be attained.

Thereafter owners and occupiers will need to assess the costs and viability of undertaking retrofits or refurbishments, and possibly bringing forward properties for marketing prior to 2018 or re-gearing leases.

Property owners and occupiers should also seek advice on how property values may be impacted. 

This could lead to a renewed interest in the currently doomed “Green Deal” Scheme.   This may provide a financial solution to support energy efficiency refurbishment and retro-fit projects. Landlords and sub-letting occupiers will need to achieve an EPC “E” rating or have implemented the maximum package of works allowable under the Green Deal (even if they fall short of the “E” rating required).

Those acting for purchasers of buy to let should be aware of these changes and ensure clients are advised accordingly.

The situation is likely to become worse than better given the Government’s aim to see by 2030 a minimum rating of C.

Morgan Jones and Pett are solicitors who provide legal advice and services to clients based in England and Wales and who can be contacted on 01603877000 or via email at davidpett@m-j-p.co.uk

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