What are landlords legally obliged to do?
Since 1st April 2020 all domestic private rented properties must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) of at least band E. An EPC rating of a property is not all that's require - adequate heating and insulation must also be provided.
Landlords with properties that have an EPC rating of F or G cannot create or renew a tenancy until the property is improved. Non-compliance with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) can lead to a penalty of up to £5,000.
If a landlord is not able to improve the property, a valid exemption must be registered on the PRS national exemptions register (external link).
The MEES requirements will eventually apply to all private rented properties in England and Wales, even where there has been no change in tenancy arrangements. These regulations will take effect from:
- 1st April 2020 for domestic properties
- 1st April 2023 for non-domestic properties
Wigan Council’s Strategic and Private Sector Housing Team are responsible for checking and undertaking action to ensure landlords comply with the EPC requirements.
Why has MEES been introduced?
These regulations have been introduced to address the following global issues:
Poor energy efficiency in a person’s home can lead to lower indoor temperatures in the winter months. Exposure to cold has been associated with increased winter deaths, risk of respiratory and circulatory conditions, cardiovascular problems, and arthritic and rheumatic illnesses; and can exacerbate existing health conditions, including common flu and cold, and allergies. An inadequate indoor temperature can also reduce injury from accidents as higher temperatures improve general safety, hand strength and dexterity. Cold living conditions can also affect mental health as cold homes can cause stress and anxiety.
Research from the Building Research Establishment highlights that cold related illness amongst people living in privately rented properties costs the NHS over £35 million. Increasing the energy efficiency of PRS properties is therefore key to tackling cold related illness and limiting the impact on the NHS.
The level of fuel poverty is highest in privately rented properties. Those privately renting also tend to be deeper in fuel poverty, with an average fuel poverty gap of £410, compared to £175 for those in local authority housing.
It is also known that 45% of households living in F and G properties are classified as fuel poor. As there is a disproportionate share of the UK’s least energy-efficient properties and fuel-poor households in the PRS by prioritising the enforcement of the PRS regulations to those in the deepest levels of fuel poverty we could really make a difference in the sector.
Wigan Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019, and released it’s first Outline Climate Change Strategy in October 2020. Elements of the strategy and associated climate action plans focus on how Wigan borough needs to prioritise household and building emissions through improved energy efficiency, transition to low carbon heating systems and investment in renewable energy. These measures are necessary to follow a timeline for Wigan borough, to ensure that the Net Zero Carbon target for 2038 is achieved as soon as possible.
The 2015 Fuel Strategy makes provision for as many private rented homes as possible to be upgraded to EPC Band D by 2025 and C by 2030, although these targets have not yet been included in legislation. The Clean Growth Strategy also announced that the government will look at a long term trajectory for energy performance standards across the PRS, with the aim of as many privately rented homes as possible being upgraded to EPC band C by 2030, where practical, cost-effective and affordable.
What should landlords do next?
Landlords must ensure there is a valid EPC when marketing a property for rent. If a new tenancy is being created the property must have an energy efficiency rating of E or above, unless there is a valid exemption. Tenants should receive a copy of the EPC when they move in. Tenants can check the rating of their property online.
If you believe the property does not meet the requirements please contact can contact the Strategic and Private Sector Housing Team on PSHAdvice@Wigan.gov.uk for further advice and assistance.
Are there exemptions?
Yes. There are 6 exemptions that landlords may apply for:
- Where improvements up to the value of £3500 have been made and the property still can not achieve an E rating
- High Cost exemption. Where the cheapest improvement works exceed £3500 (no low cost measures are available).
- Wall insulation isn’t suitable
- Third party consent denied, i.e. Local Planning Authority, freeholder etc
- Property devaluation
- 6 month temporary exemption for a new landlord
All exemptions must be registered on the national PRS exemptions register.
You can find full government guidance on exemptions for privately rented properties, and how to apply for them, by visiting:
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
HMOs are not excluded from the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). MEES applies to all domestic and non-domestic properties, where:
- There is a legal requirement to have an EPC
- The property is let (including the letting of individual rooms) on a relevant tenancy type
- Individual rooms within a HMO will not need an EPC. The building as a whole may need one if it was built, sold or rented out in the past 10 years.
See guide for landlords on HMOs and EPCs to find out more (external link).
Historic and listed buildings
Historic buildings, listed buildings or buildings within a conservation area are exempt if: "compliance with the minimum energy requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance". This is not a blanket exemption, it may still be possible to make improvements. This is only possible where the character or appearance is not altered. Unacceptable alterations in the majority of protected buildings would be:
- Double Glazing
- New Doors and Windows
- External Wall insulation
- External boiler flues
There are many more low impact measures that may be acceptable. The onus is on the owner to understand which works may, or may not, be permitted on their property. When applying for an exemption, owners will need to evidence that:
- All recommended measures on their EPC would unacceptably alter the character or appearance of the building
- None of the recommended measures could be carried out to improve the energy efficiency of the building
Owners of such properties should seek advice from Planning. They may be able to provide evidence for an exemption based on planning approval. They will investigate the likelihood of obtaining planning permission, or listed building consent.
What should tenants do next?
Existing tenants should check the EPC rating of their rented property and if the property does not meet the minimum standard they should discuss this with their landlord, and seek the improvements required in line with the relevant tenancy dates.
If a tenant believes the property they rent is in breach of the regulations now they can contact the Strategic and Private Sector Housing Team on PSHAdvice@Wigan.gov.uk for further advice and assistance.
Is funding available?
In some circumstances funding may be available to fully or partly cover the cost of improvement works needed to comply with the regulations. This funding is available through different providers, so it's a good idea to explore the different areas of funding before starting any improvement works.
For further funding and energy saving advice you can visit:
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have produced a full guide for landlords about MEES and privately rented properties (external link). It includes quick guides to: