Don't make a fool of yourself this April 1st

April 1st is best known for April fools day, a day when everyone from the school prankstar to the BBC attempt to make a fool of anyone that crosses their path. This April however it is not the prankstars you need to prepare for, it is the reform of government legislation on Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) in the Private Rental Sector (PRS).

What is changing and why?

The current minimum EPC requirement for a property is G, however properties in this band are extremely energy inefficient with high running costs, rather like an old gas guzzling Mustang. The legislative reforms coming in on 1st April 2018 will require the minimum standard of properties in the PRS to be in band E, more Fiesta than Prius, however a lot more efficient than the old Mustang.

To put a cost figure on it, the average cost of energy for a G rated property is £2,860 per annum, compared to £1,710 for a property rated E.

What will happen to my houses that are currently rented out until after 1st April 2018?

The new legislation states that renting out a property after 1st April 2018 which does not meet the minimum EPC rating will result in fines for the landlord. If you have a property that doesn’t meet the new standards is currently being rented out until after 1st April 2018, do not worry, the tenancy can carry on as normal. However to rent out the property again, or extend the contract at any date beginning after 1st April 2018, you will be required to get the property up to an E rating.

What are the fines for non compliance?

The maximum fine for not meeting the regulation standard is up to £5,000 for each property, and per breach of legislation. Therefore the landlord can be fined up to £5,000 again and again for each breach of legislation.

Well my properties all have double glazing and a relatively new boiler, so I’m safe right?

It is estimated that a staggering 70% of current EPC ratings on properties are inaccurate, a frightening statistic that could make a fair few landlords nervous. In order to make sure that your property is one up to the minimum standard, and two that its current rating is accurate, you can visit the government EPC register website and request a performance certificate. Even if you are under the impression that your properties meet the required standard, be sure to check, as the information you have may be inaccurate.

What can I do to improve my EPC rating in the most cost effective way?

Each band of EPC rating is made up of SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure) points, the higher the property scores in SAP points, the better the EPC rating.

A few tips for improving your EPC rating:

Lighting

  • Potential SAP increase = 1 point
  • LED lighting is 90% more energy efficient than traditional incandescent lighting
  • The payback period of purchasing LED lighting is 2 years
  • The lifespan of LED lighting is 60 years, compared to 1-2 years with traditional incandescent light bulbs

Loft insulation

  • Potential SAP increase = 10-15 points
  • Recommended thickness for best results is 270mm
  • Costs £300 to install, however can save you an average of £150 per year on energy bills
  • Payback period is 2 years

Cavity wall insulation

  • Potential SAP increase = 5-10 points
  • Recommended thickness of 270mm
  • Cost of installation estimated £450-500, however can save you an average of £140 per year
  • Payback period of 4 years

Draught proofing

  • Potential SAP increase = 1 point
  • Professional fitting of draught proofing your house can cost anywhere between £100-300
  • Properly installed can save you £25 per year
  • When looking to buy draught proofing materials it is in your benefit to find those with a Kitemark on them. This shows that the product has a good standard, and if installed correctly could have a 20-year life span.

Leave the fooling around this April to the classroom prankers amongst us, and make sure your property meets the minimum EPC standards.