From April 1st 2018, the new energy efficiency standards that everybody’s been talking about will be rolled out industry wide. The onus for meeting the standards, which call for all rental properties subject to news leases or renewals to meet a minimum "E" rating on their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), will be on landlords. But this new legislation is something that every agent should know back to front. Here’s why:
The crackdown on under-performing properties could cut directly into agents’ revenue stream – as, under the directive, properties that fall below an E rating on the A-G scale will be forced off the market until improvements are made. This affects not only the landlords who own the properties, but also the agents who are trying to market them. The legislation also applies not just to new tenancy agreements, but to renewals as well, which means that it’s not just new business that will be affected for lettings agents, but existing tenants looking to routinely renew as well.
Demonstrating legal knowledge
When it comes to the legalities of the lettings business, landlords expect – and have the right to – informed agents who have kept up-to-date with all the industry’s’ rules and regulations, not just the ones that directly apply to them. In a crowded market, agents that can’t keep up will fall behind.
There are dozens of simple but effective ways for a property to improve its energy rating, almost all of which a letting agent should be in a position to help a landlord with. In addition to more expensive options like double glazing or upgrading an old boiler with a newer, more efficient heating system, there are several cheaper options that should make a big difference. Agents could advise landlords to switch their lightbulbs to more energy-efficient LEDs, seal up any open chimney flues or fireplaces and look into how thick their draft excluders and curtains really are. One of the most effective options is to top up loft insulation (going from no insulation to insulation of 270mm can improve a rating by up to 15 points) – a simple procedure that most agents with contractor connections should be able to set up with minimal time impact to themselves.
This is just the beginning
Perhaps the major reason agents should be on top of this legislation is because it’s just the start. From 1st April 2020, all properties, regardless of whether or not a renewal is due, must meet the minimum energy requirements. Meanwhile, in February 2018, MPs backed a proposed Bill that could see all domestic properties required to attain a minimum Energy Performance Certificate rating of “C” by 2035. When it comes to energy efficiency, winter is coming – and those that aren’t prepared for it may find themselves frozen out.
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