We finally have it – the Government’s latest strategy to make the UK’s homes greener.
After several false starts the Department for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) issued the long awaited Clean Growth Strategy to establish a way to achieve a low carbon future for the UK.
The strategy provides a view of the future energy efficiency landscape and underlines some long-term goals for the Government.
So, everyone’s happy then? Not quite.
The proof of the pudding, as ever, will be in the eating and there are many who are being very cautious in their praise for the Government, not least because of the feelings of déjà vu the strategy has prompted.
The devil really is in the detail and the countdown to April 2018 is relentless
But, all well-founded cynicism aside, there are reasons to be cheerful. Highlights of the strategy include continued support for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) policy, improving standards in new boiler installations, a commitment for a review of building regulations for energy efficiency, following the current review on regulations (The Grenfell Review) for both domestic and non-domestic buildings and working with the industry to enable the Each Home Counts review.
One of the more pressing tasks though is covered by the announcement of a consultation in 2018 on how to make the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) in the private rental sector more effective.
As Peter Williams, of the Shoesmiths law firm, says: There appears to be a relatively high level of knowledge about how the MEES are going to apply to commercial investment properties, when they take effect in April 2018.
The same can't be said for residential investment owners, yet the start date is the same.
MEES also affects residential lettings
Mees will apply to new lettings of residential property from April 2018, which is less than six months away.
“Even more importantly, by April 2020, all owners of let residential properties will either have to ensure that their properties have an EPC rating of E or above, or they will have to register an exemption on the exemptions register. Failure to comply could land them with a penalty of up to £5,000.
BEIS has now issued guidance for landlords and local authorities – a hefty document that almost stretches to 100 pages but doesn’t quite make it. Mr Williams believes everyone involved in the residential market should read and absorb the information, adding: “This will include huge numbers of buy-to-let investors, many of whom are likely to own only a small number of properties, perhaps as few as just one or two.
“MEES for residential properties will operate in a similar - but not identical - manner to MEES for commercial properties. The differences are absolutely vital, however.”
The devil really is in the detail and the countdown to April 2018 is relentless. It isn’t always the case that BEIS documents are essential reading, but in the case of MEES it really is.