When quality-checking residential home survey reports, we don't just review the home survey content in terms of whether it meets standards obligations, we also look out for inaccurate information. At Projekt 3, we often come across outdated standard phrases, and for this blog post, we will briefly look at report commentary in relation to Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES)specifically.
Do you recognise any of the following words/phrases in your reports?
‘from April 2018’
We see the above language every month when reading energy-based sections in home survey reports. The current MEES legislation requires that private domestic rented properties require an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) energy rating of E or higher (A-E) in order to be let. This has been in legislation for the past five years (since 2018), yet so often we read reports that state the legislation is ‘proposed’. We also see comments in surveys stating that a property does not meet requirements, in spite of having an energy rating of 'E'.
The consequence of statements like these is that inaccurate information is being delivered to the client. Remember that a report can deliver information and advice that the client relies on; for example - your client might be buying a property to let, and if that property doesn’t meet the EPC rating then they won’t legally be allowed to rent it out (unless an exemption is met -see information on exemptions here). Therefore, inaccurate reporting may lead to a fall-through sale unnecessarily, or merely confusion.
Yes, a conveyancer should be dealing with providing relevant legal advice to the client in relation to MEES, but as residential surveyors, we have to ensure that our surveys provide the correct information to the client. A home survey should state facts, but also at a basic level, provide clarity.
As every surveyor should be aware, MEES can form a big part of the solution in meeting net-zero targets, and house-buying clients in the private sector need to know what is correct now. Yet, they also need to understand the trajectory of legislation to make the right decision.
So, surveyors need to remember:
For now, the requirements of MEES legislation for the privately rented sector is that properties must meet an energy rating of E or above (unless an exemption applies).
The proposed trajectory is for new tenancies to be a 'C' rating or higher by April 2025 and this proposed enhancement of legislation to apply to existing tenancies in April 2028.
Back in 2017, the Clean Growth Strategy shared the ambition of the government to have as many homes 'improved to EPC Band C by 2035, where practical, cost-effective and affordable'.
While the practicalities and the mechanisms to deliver the proposals may be unclear, the basic aspects of MEES legislation need to be understood by surveyors and reported accurately.
In spite of the current and proposed legislation, it’s also important for surveyors to keep up-to-date on this; it appears as though political will might be weakening given Michael Gove's statements relating to relaxing the pace of MEES. Surveyors must wait to see what this means and what the implications are, because this may end up having an impact on home survey reporting on the topic of MEES. We hope that government will not delay making properties more energy-efficient, but given the lack of clear and consistent support to homeowners at this stage, it is difficult to understand what the future looks like in this space. So, keeping up-to-date is essential.
In conclusion, as a surveyor, to ensure your reports are giving the correct information:
review current phrases (and particularly identify and remove language like 'proposed' or 'from 2018'where it makes comments inaccurate).
make sure your statements provide clarity and accuracy on current legislation.
ensure any comment on the trajectory of legislation is clearly noted, and why it might be important for your client.
This will then enable the client to further discuss with their legal adviser anything that may affect their decision from a letting perspective.
On a positive ending, the issues I currently find in relation to MEES commentary are simple and easy to fix, but imperative for surveyors to get right to ensure they deliver facts and clarity to clients.
If you want to talk to us about providing quality checks for you, or you are interested in our future-proofing home surveys programme, book a call here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.