Why landlords must be prepared for new EPC legislation

Mon 6th Nov 2017

Hayley Gaffney of Coodes Solicitors Personal Disputes team encourages landlords to get up to speed on impending EPC legislation.

An EPC rating ranks a property’s energy efficiency, with an ‘A’ being the highest rating and ‘G’ being the lowest. From 1 April 2018, landlords will only be able to let out a property with a rating of ‘E’ or above. Landlords who breach the legislation by renting out properties rated ‘F’ or ‘G’ could face fines of up to £4,000. From 1 April 2020 the regulations will extend to all tenancies – however old.

There are some exemptions to the new EPC ratings, including listed buildings and properties that are not being used for less than four months a year. These are in the minority though.

Our Residential Property team has previously written on this topic and the importance of landlords understanding and following the legislation.

The Personal Disputes team generally gets involved in advising landlords when things go wrong with a tenancy. Typically this is when they want to serve a notice to gain possession of a property. Our advice, to avoid problems further down the line, is for landlords to be ready for the new legislation and to provide details of a property’s EPC rating to a new tenant when they move in.

Serving a section 21 notice

It is important for landlords to know that, when the legislation comes into force next April, they will not be able to serve a section 21 notice unless their tenant has already had details of the property’s EPC rating. We are therefore recommending that landlords start to include the EPC rating, along with other important statutory information and documentation such as the gas safety certificate and details of the deposit protection scheme, along with a copy of the Government’s How to Rent guide, in their tenant welcome pack.

If a landlord wants to serve a section 21 notice and has not previously provided their tenant with details of the property’s EPC rating, they will need to provide one retrospectively. They will then need to wait for the tenant to receive this before progressing with the section 21 notice. This means the process of gaining possession of the property may be delayed.

A section 8 possession notice

In some cases it may not be possible to provide an EPC rating, although this will be mandatory in all tenancies from April 2020. In this case, a landlord will be unable to serve a 21 notice and will instead need to provide the tenant with a section 8 possession notice. However, it is important to note that a section 8 notice can only be served if one of the grounds for possession under section 8 is met, such as the tenant failing to pay their rent.

Unlike a section 21 notice where a possession order must be granted by the Court, under section 8 notice possession can be discretionary. Because of this, the landlord can not always evict the tenant if they have remedied the issues, for example by paying a backlog of rent.

So, we would advise all landlords to now ensure their tenants have a copy of the property’s EPC ratings. If this has not yet been done, now is a good time to supply one retrospectively. If your property falls short of the new legislation, you now have under six months to put it right. We can advise on companies who can assist with recommendations to increase a property’s rating.

Although we can advise anyone who finds themselves in breach of the legislation, we are strongly recommending landlords ensure they understand and are ready for the new EPC ratings.

For advice on any of these issues, contact Hayley Gaffney in the Personal Disputes Team at Coodes Solicitors on 01726 874 700 or hayley.gaffney@coodes.co.uk

Mon 6th Nov 2017

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