If you’re a landlord, you’ll no doubt be aware of your property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), or perhaps you’re not.

An EPC tells you how energy efficient your property is and is rated from A (very good) to G (very poor). It goes without saying that the more energy efficient your property, the lower the energy bills and (usually) the better the overall condition of the house. If you have draughty windows, dislodged roof tiles, an insufficient boiler or heating system, not only will the energy costs of the property be much higher but chances are your investment is costing you more money in other ways. A high EPC rating also restricts the amount of rent you can charge so keeping up to date with property maintenance work is a good incentive if you want to command the highest yields possible.

Furthermore, EPCs have been a mandatory document for any property rental or sale since 2007 and have a validity of 10 years. As the first of these certificates are coming up for renewal, even stricter energy regulations are being forced upon buy-to-let landlords.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for landlords

From 1st April 2018 the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) comes into practice. The new directive will make it illegal for landlords to grant new tenancies on properties with an EPC rating below E. This will apply to ALL rental properties by 1st April 2020, so it’s essential investment landlords take action now to avoid costly implications. Local councils will have the power to enforce compliance of the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for landlords, with penalties of up to £5,000.

Whilst it’s your responsibility as the landlord to improve the energy efficiency of your rental property, it’s understandable that you may not know exactly how to go about this. That’s where a property maintenance contract with RFM Trading comes in. We’re property experts and we have a significant amount of experience in readying and maintaining properties for the rental market. Many of our landlord customers employ us on a contract basis meaning their properties are covered 24/7, 365 days a year.

Here are our top tips to improve the EPC rating of your property, ready for the impending MEES regulations:

Loft and wall insulation

The main way any building loses heat is through the walls (upto 35% is lost this way!). Proper and correct insulation can transform the energy efficiency of a property. Homes built during and before the Edwardian period (pre 1920s) will have solid walls to which insulation can be added either internally or externally. Post 1920 and the walls are most likely to be cavity; made up of two walls with a gap in between, known as the cavity. This can be filled with insulation to protect the property from heat loss. Do your research as not all cavity walls are suitable for insulation.

Heat rises and with it, approximately a quarter of a property’s warmth is lost through the roof. Adequate loft insulation is a cost effective way of countering this. Standard loft insulation is inexpensive and property owners can even apply for a grant to cover the costs. Find out more here.

All-inclusive tenancies

Prospective tenants are more likely to opt for a rental property with a better energy efficiency rating to help manage their own living costs. Improving your asset’s performance may also mean you’re able to charge a higher rent. Alternatively, you may wish to offer all-inclusive rent to cover things like energy bills, water and internet usage. If you address any heat loss or energy performance issues, you’ll reap the rewards by directly saving yourself money.

Windows

Windows are another major cause of heat loss, and the problem can be two-fold. Old, rotting wooden frames, or badly fitted or cheap plastic frames can be the cause of draughts or heat loss. Blown double glazing or old, single paned glass can also suck the heat out of a property. Ensure your windows are properly insulated to prevent draughts, condensation and reduce noise. Even in old period properties, it is possible to fit double glazing. Secondary glazing (a pane of plastic or glass fitted to the recess of the existing window, creating a thin layer of air) is also an option and may be cheaper than double glazing.

Renewable energy

Alternative energy sources are becoming more and more mainstream and will be the norm in the not too distant future. Get ahead of the game and invest in renewable technologies, such as solar panels, now. The initial outlay my be more but the long term benefits to you (your tenants, and the planet!) will be far greater. Again, do your research as it is only heat-related energy improvements that count towards a property’s EPC rating.

Permanent improvements

Don’t be tempted to go with a quick-fix or temporary solution. Pay cheap, pay twice as the saying goes. You get out what you put in is another well known phrase, and for good reason; if you want to make the most out of your investment property, you need to ‘invest’ in it yourself. Get the best job done that you can afford and use the correct materials. It can be tempting to do things yourself to save on labour costs but unless you know what you’re doing, chances are you’ll have to call-in a professional at a later date to correct the poor work done in the first place. Temporary solutions aren’t recognised in EPC ratings, so you may as well do the job properly.

If you are a landlord and would like to explore energy improvements for your rental property, we’d be happy to help you. Our expert property maintenance professionals can conduct a thorough energy assessment and advise you on appropriate improvement measures. Our extensive team will carry out the necessary work to the highest possible standard. If you would like to discuss any ongoing maintenance contract work for your property (portfolio), we would also be delighted to help. Call us on 0161 667 3739 or email [email protected].

There are exemptions to the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for landlords, details of which (along with further information about the scheme) can be found on the Government website.