Landlords in the private rented sector (PRS) need to act now in preparation for the new energy efficiency standards due to come into force on 1 April 2018. Since the Green Deal effectively came to an end there is still some uncertainty about the finer details of the regulations, but with just seven months to go, there’s no time to waste in getting prepared.
First, the nitty gritty (quoting the Residential Landlords’ Association): “As from the 1st April 2018 there will be a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations will come into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches.”
It is believed that up to 20% of commercially-let properties could be affected by the legislation so potentially that’s a lot of home improvements to be made. Helpfully, the RLA provides some very thorough guidance, which includes a list of over 40 possible measures which could be taken by landlords to bring their rental properties up to the minimum standard. Included in this list are a considerable number of plumbing-related tasks, so we’re anticipating a significant uptick in the requirement for new Legionella risk assessments as a result.
As Darren Finley, chief commercial officer at Ideal Commercial Boilers, has recently commented, “While replacing an inefficient boiler with an efficient one is the obvious solution, a wide range of technology and maintenance measures can contribute to an improved EPC rating. We would urge landlords to work with specialist contractors and consider the benefits of routine inspections protecting the whole heating system, as well as adopting preventative maintenance, monitoring gas bills, introducing controls and water treatment.”
The good news is that once your property is more energy efficient, you and your tenants should make tangible savings on bills and the value of your property will be enhanced by the improvements. However, remember that there is an important balancing act between energy efficiency and Legionella control, so be sure to take professional advice when making changes, particularly where water temperatures are concerned. As we’ve previously discussed, storing water at the correct temperature is an important control measure for Legionella bacteria, so in your push for energy efficiency, be certain that your hot water is hot enough to kill bacteria (above 50°C).
One obvious and affordable measure which will also improve your Legionella controls is to lag pipes and water tanks effectively. This will help to maintain correct, safe water temperatures as well as reduce your energy bills. If you have an outdoor storage tank, make sure that it is shaded to avoid direct sunlight.
Reduction of limescale in the system is another consideration. Hard water deposits act as food for Legionella bacteria and reduce the efficiency of your plumbed-in appliances. The installation of a water softener or limescale treatment system is a more significant investment, but will pay dividends over time, lowering maintenance and energy bills and helping to prolong the life of your appliances.
We’d be happy to provide practical advice on action you can take to ensure that your rental properties are compliant in relation to the new minimum energy efficiency standards as well as Legionella control legislation. Contact us today on [email protected] or 01732 446474