Do Listed Buildings need EPC’s?

Shropshire Listed Building
Shropshire Listed Building

Over the last few years, the Government has been working towards improving the energy efficiency of Britain's housing stock. There are two main reasons for this –

Increased energy efficiency in homes leads to a lower carbon footprint and a step in the right direction towards climate change

Homes which are more energy efficient result in lower energy bills and better living conditions.

In June 2019, Parliament set the ‘Net Zero’ target and committed the UK to reduce emissions by “at least” 100 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050.

One of the Government's key initiatives in this regard is the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES), which was first introduced in 2018 and focuses on the Private Rental Sector (PRS), making landlords responsible for improving the energy efficiency of private rented properties.

What are Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)?

Since April 1st 2018, it has been illegal for landlords to issue a new tenancy to new or existing tenants if their property has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of F or G.

On April 1st 2020 the rules were tightened – the Government increased the exemption cap for improvement costs from £2,500 to £3,500, and MEES now applies to ALL privately

rented properties in England and Wales, regardless of when the tenancy commenced.

The penalties for not complying with MEES are substantial and not issuing an EPC at the start of a tenancy (if one is required) could cause problems if you later try to issue a Section 21 eviction notice.

Are listed buildings and properties in conservation areas exempt from MEES?

There has been much speculation of the official MEES guidance, leaving landlords in an ambiguous situation in which it is difficult to interpret the rules.

According to the official guidance, an EPC is not required for a listed building or property in a conservation area if energy improvement requirements would ‘unacceptably alter’ the property’s character or appearance. By virtue, the property would also then be exempt from MEES and landlords would still be able to let it even with an EPC rating below E. But….

How can a landlord determine whether EPC requirements would ‘unacceptably alter the character or appearance’ of the property without an EPC in the first place?

The guidance is certainly not clear and remains open to interpretation, but industry advice is as follows –

Obtain an EPC (or at least a draft EPC)

Ascertain what the current rating is and what works are recommended

Establish if the recommended works would exceed the exemption cap of £3,500

The landlord must then decide what could or could not be done under the building’s listing status, and the subsequent effect any works would have on the property’s EPC rating.

If a landlord is in doubt as to what can be deemed ‘unacceptable’, the official guidance encourages them to seek the advice of their local planning authority’s conservation officer.

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