Rural landlords have been left “in the lurch” on the rules surrounding the new energy standards that will come into force in just three months’ time, according to the Country Land and Business Association.
Under Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (Mees) rules, from 1 April 2018 it will be illegal to let a property with an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating lower than E to a new tenant.
This could hit farmers and estate owners who rent out property, as they tend to own older properties with lower EPC ratings than houses built to modern building regulations.
The CLA has warned the lettings market is facing chaos in the weeks ahead because of the level of confusion over how to comply with the new rules.
In particular, it has criticised the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy for the poor timing of a consultation document issued just before Christmas.
CLA president Tim Breitmeyer said: “The residential lettings market has been thrown into chaos because the government has not left sufficient time to consult on necessary changes to the legislation and ensure landlords are given the correct guidance.
“Closing this consultation just two weeks before the rules take effect is really leaving landlords in the lurch.
“Properties could be taken off the rural rental market because some landlords will be unable to find the money needed to make energy improvements at such short notice.”
The consultation document, issued on 19 December, seeks to amend the legislation currently in place to remove the principle that any remedial action to bring properties up to standard should come at no cost to the landlord.
The government is instead proposing to cap the financial contribution a landlord can be expected to make at £2,500.
Mr Breitmeyer said the proposed cost cap went some way to help clarify and simplify the contribution a landlord must make.
“However, landlords who acted early to comply with Mees are penalised because only money spent after 1 October 2017 will count towards to the cap.
“We will be responding to the consultation to argue that any money spent improving a property since the regulations were first published in July 2015 should count towards it.”