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In just a few short weeks, landlords will have to meet new energy efficiency standards. But what is being introduced and how could it affect you?

What is being changed?

In its latest effort to be more environmentally-friendly and improve the energy efficiency of properties in the privately rented sector, the government is bringing in MEES (Minimum Energy Efficient Standards).

From April 2018, it will be illegal for landlords to let a property that has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of lower than E- to new tenants in England and Wales. By April 1st 2020 this will apply to existing tenancies as well.

An EPC ranks the energy efficiency of a property from A- to G-. Once the new legislation comes into force, homes with an EPC rating of F- or G- will no longer be fit for tenants. While most new build homes have a higher EPC rating as standard, older and draughtier homes may not be at E- or above. If you are a landlord with a home of this kind, you will need to take steps to bring the energy efficiency of your home up to the required standard.

Why is it being introduced?

With buildings identified by the government as a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, they are keen to cut these emissions where it can to help the UK meet its carbon reduction targets for 2020 and 2050.

New build properties are built with energy efficiency in mind, but older or listed properties – often in rural locations – were built by more traditional means. The government is keen to bring such properties up to higher standards. What’s more, the minimum standard could rise higher in the future if the government feels more still needs to be done to tackle energy inefficient properties.

Are there any exemptions?

In some cases, rental properties are exempt from the new regulations. For example, certain listed buildings, temporary properties and holiday lets don’t have to meet the new standards, something that is also the case for tenancies of over 99 years or tenancies of less than six months (with no right of renewal).

As a landlord, you can also register an exemption if – for a number of reasons - you believe your property shouldn’t have to meet the new standards.

In the vast majority of cases, though, you will need to adhere to MEES and bring your rental properties up to the required standard if they aren’t already.

How can I improve the energy efficiency of my rental property? 

Fortunately, there are a number of steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your homes.

This includes installing smart meters – dubbed the next generation of gas and electricity meters.

Smart meters allow tenants to keep track of the energy they use and informs them of where costs could be cut. Even better, they are cheap and easy to install and provided by many energy suppliers at no additional cost.

Energy efficient lighting is also another simple way in which you can make your home more eco-friendly. With lighting accounting for around 15% of a typical household’s electricity bill, energy use and lighting bills can be cut by using the right kind of bulbs.

In the UK there are two main types of energy efficient light bulbs on offer - compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs) – which both help to save on electricity bills and energy consumption.

For example, replacing a traditional light bulb with an LED will save about £3 to £6 per year, while replacing all bulbs in your rental home with LED alternatives would save tenants about £35 a year on their electricity bills. Not only will your home be more energy efficient, it will also have greater appeal to tenants thanks to the lower bills.

Luckily, LEDs are suitable for most fittings – they are particularly effective when replacing dimmable lights and spotlights – and they are more efficient and cost-effective than CFLs.

Additionally, you can encourage tenants to make sure all lights are turned off when they leave the property, as well as turning lights off in rooms that aren’t in use, to conserve more energy. A sensor or timer on any external lights (if your home has them) would help to make sure they are only used when needed.

There are ways in which tenants can save on water consumption, while ensuring you have an effective heating system in place will help to keep energy costs and usage down.

Furthermore, energy efficient windows – double or even tripled glazed windows, for example – are another great way of making your home more energy efficient by keeping heat from escaping. There is even the option of secondary glazing (a more specialised form of double glazing) if you want to maximise energy efficiency.

If, for whatever reason, your home does not have double glazed windows, heavy curtains can have a similar effect, although they are likely to be far less effective at keeping the heat in.

Energy efficient windows help keep draughts and cold spots at bay, in turn creating a more comfortable living experience for your tenants. They also have the added advantage of insulating your home against excess external noise and can reduce the build-up of condensation (a leading cause of damp and mould) on the inside of your windows.

Finally, there are things you can do to improve the insulation of your home, particularly in areas that may be more exposed to harsher weather. Doors and conservatories can be draught-proofed and can help to save the average household approximately £25 a year.

To find out more about how Owl Search can help to get your home occupied with good, reliable tenants, please contact us on 020 3432 3888.

We cover a number of areas – Borehamwood, Stanmore, Edgware, Harrow and Wembley – and can use our extensive experience to help you get the most from your rental properties.

 

We also provide a free and instant online valuation to give you an idea of how much rent you could be earning. 

In the recent Autumn budget, Chancellor, Phillip Hammond announced the abolition of stamp duty on properties under £300,000 for first-time buyers. This new legislation came into effect on 22nd November 2017 but what does it mean for buyers looking to buy their first house in North West London and what are the rules?

Aimed at helping more young people get on the housing ladder

 With the cost of buying property in London, and the rest of the country, so high, many young people struggle to save the deposit and the fees associated with moving. With stamp duty fee on a £300k property being £5,000, the hope is that more first-time buyers will be able to afford to buy their own property. The intention is that it will act as an added incentive for young people to save a deposit. 

Strictly for first-time buyers

If you are a first-time buyer looking to buy your first investment property in areas such as Stanmore or Borehamwood, before you buy a residence for yourself, then this will not apply to you. You need to be intending to live in the property. If you are buying a house with someone who has previously had an interest in, or owned, a property then stamp duty relief will not apply. If you are looking to buy property with a partner, friend or family members, or even as a group then all parties must be first time buyers.

How much relief can you get?

 

Current stamp duty land tax is charged on all properties of £125,000 or more at 2% up to £250,000. After this the rate increases to 5%. If you are a first-time buyer you will pay no stamp duty on property up to a value of £300k. Above this the normal rate of 5% will apply. The saving for first-time buyers will be as much as £5,000.

 

Apply for a refund

 

If you are a first-time buyer and have inadvertently paid the stamp duty since the Chancellor announced the change, the good news is that you can apply for a refund. Some buyers completed their purchase on the day of the budget, and over the following few days, not realising that the relief applied to them. To learn if you are entitled to a refund and how to claim it visit www.gov.uk where you will find further information about stamp duty.

 

How we can help

 At Owl Search, we can help you to find your first property to buy within the areas that we cover areas e.g. Stanmore, Edgware, Harrow and Wembley. Our extensive experience and commitment to finding exactly what you want means that you can rely on us to help you search for your perfect first property. 

 

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