If you’re a buy-to-let landlord, energy efficiency is an issue that concerns you – even if your tenants pay their own energy bills.

In an effort to cut carbon emissions, the government has introduced legislation making landlords responsible for reducing the environmental impact of their properties.

Since 2018, landlords agreeing new tenancies in England must make sure that the property achieves an energy performance certificates (EPC) rating of no less than E. By April 2020 the rule will apply to all tenancies.

What is an EPC?

EPCs are needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented. Homeowners and landlords must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before marketing a property for sale or rent.

The EPC contains:

  • Information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs.
  • Recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

An EPC report gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and is valid for 10 years. You will need to appoint an accredited assessor to carry out the EPC inspection and your estate agent or letting agent must be given a copy of the report.

While EPCs are an essential step to renting out a property (without one you could receive a £4,000 fine) they come with additional benefits too. A good rating demonstrates an energy efficient home, where energy bills are likely to be cheaper than a similar property with a lower EPC score.

If your property is warm and cheaper to heat, it will be more attractive to potential renters. Existing tenants may also be more likely to stay on, helping reduce the risk of void periods.

What happens during the EPC assessment?

It should take your domestic energy assessor less than an hour to carry out an internal and external inspection of your rental property. During that time, they will inspect or measure the property’s:

  • Exterior walls
  • Roof insulation
  • Floor
  • Windows
  • Open fireplaces
  • Boiler
  • Lighting
  • Heating system
  • Heating controls
  • Hot water cylinder insulation
  • Ventilation system
  • Conservatory and extensions.

How to improve your property’s energy efficiency

To improve a home’s energy efficiency, first examine your existing EPC report. The recommendations page will list measures you can take to improve the energy performance of the property.

In addition, there are a few things you should look at:

1. Lighting

Replace any halogen spotlights with LED bulbs – these energy saving lights are a cheap and easy way to improve your EPC rating.

2. Insulation

A quarter of household heat is lost through the roof, but loft insulation is easy to install and relatively inexpensive. It’s also worth seeking professional advice about whether cavity wall insulation would work in your property.

3. Windows

Rickety old single glazed windows can be responsible for 40% of the heat loss in your house. Modern high-performance double glazing will make a significant difference to the energy efficiency of a home.

4. Heating

The heating system accounts for a large chunk of a property’s energy use. If you have an old, inefficient boiler, a new one could make a big impact on your energy efficiency, warming up the property and cutting heating bills substantially.

Listed buildings

If you own a listed building, you may find it difficult to make energy efficient adaptations without altering the character of your property. So long as you can prove that you’ve implemented as many energy efficiency measures as possible, you may be exempt from achieving the minimum E rating. You should, however, get advice from your local authority conservation officer first.

Find out more

Find out more about energy efficiency and EPCs on the government website gov.uk.

If you’re thinking of renting out property in Islington, Stoke Newington, Highbury or Newington Green, and would like advice about EPCs, or any other aspect of marketing your home, contact us today.