I have heard rumours that the Government is planning to change the rules governing Energy Performance Certificates for rented properties. What’s going on?


I think you must be talking about the Government’s proposal to introduce a minimum energy performance rating of EPCs within the private rental sector. I understand this change is due to be implemented in April next year.


What this means, just to make it clear, is that from April all private rental properties will need to have a minimum EPC rating of E, otherwise it will be illegal to rent them out to tenants, and they will have to be taken off the rental market altogether - or at least, until the necessary work has been carried out and a new E-rated EPC acquired. For the first two years, this new rule will only apply to new tenancies and renewals. From April 2020, however, it will be extended to cover all private rentals.


For landlords, of course, rather than suffer any break in income generation, it makes far more sense to ensure that all their properties comply with the new EPC rating requirement before the appropriate deadline. And, since for existing tenancies and renewals that deadline is now only some 8 months away, it is probably advisable to start planning any necessary improvement works sooner rather than later.


So far, so good. Needless to say, however, as things currently stand there is still a worrying lack of clarity – and hence a considerable degree of confusion – within the private rental sector regarding the detail of these changes. The Government is supposed to be issuing specific guidance on the subject in October – although with everything else the Government has on its plate at the moment, I personally won’t be holding my breath. Nevertheless, this clarification – if and when it comes – will hopefully include details of any cost capping on the improvement works landlords are expected to carry out, and will presumably also confirm that some - if not all - listed buildings are exempt from the change (since they are exempt from EPCs in any case).


Meanwhile, however, I would suggest that all landlords look to their EPCs. Better to be safe than sorry!