Before new tenants move into any rental property in the UK, landlords now need to supply them with information on just how energy-efficient it is. Energy Performance Certificates look like the A-G ratings found on washing machines and other electrical appliances, and enable prospective tenants to see current costs for heating, lighting and hot water, and easily assess how environmentally friendly the property is.
EPCs have to be obtained from an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor. They will examine fittings such as double glazing, heating system and insulation as well as the age and construction of the property. The cost of obtaining a certificate can vary wildly from around £50 to £120 or more, so it's worth shopping around for DEAs. DEA Local can help you find someone in your area.
It's worth getting your EPC sooner rather than later even if you have sitting tenants; you'll need to show it to new tenants before they sign a lease, and the certificate remains valid for ten years.
Rather than seeing energy improvements as a chore, landlords should view them as an opportunity: a great way to demonstrate to prospective tenants that their concern isn't just with meeting the minimum legal standards for energy efficiency. Properties which exceed the minimum will naturally be more attractive to tenants, will command higher rents and encourage a longer stay. On the other hand, housing which scores poorly may be more difficult to rent out in the future.
What can I do to improve my property's rating?
- Insulating your property is the most cost-effective way to improve your score. Loft insulation is a quick and easy DIY job, and cavity wall insulation is usually straightforward and inexpensive. Grants may be available to help with costs: see below.
- Hot water tanks and pipes should be lagged properly.
- Check that appliances you purchase are the most energy-efficient available.
- Double glazing isn't cheap, but can pay for itself in reduced bills and improved rents.
Landlords have an obligation under new building regulations to make improvements to their property's energy efficiency whilst they're carrying out other improvements: for example, repairs to roofs and floors, replastering or replacing windows.
The Energy Saving Trust has more advice for keeping your properties environmentally friendly.
Can I get help with the costs?
Grants are available for landlords to help or even totally cover the costs of energy-saving improvements. Check out the Energy Saving Trust for details of what's available for your area.
Tenants who are in receipt of certain benefits may qualify to get their home insulated for free. Visit Warm Front for more information.
Individual landlords can also claim up to £1,500 for loft or cavity wall insulation in a rental property as an expense against their income tax.