Making a mess of MEES? Exemptions explained

It came in on April Fool’s Day, and for many people the MEES legislation has felt like a bit of a joke – with enough exemptions to seem like every property has a loop hole.

However, it’s not quite as simple as it may seem…

Run over MEES again, what exactly are they?

In April, a legislation came into force stating that your property must have an EPC rating of at least E if you are planning to let it. The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were brought into force to help encourage the PRS to provide more energy efficient accommodation, and impact nearly 300,000 rental properties in the UK.

The regulations state that landlords of buildings with an EPC rating of less than E cannot legally grant a new tenancy or renew an existing tenancy unless they have registered an exemption. The rules will apply to all tenancies, new and existing, by April 2020.

What are the exemptions?

Although the regulations are wide reaching, it is understood that it is going to be impossible for some properties to comply – they may simply not be built that way!

If this applies to your property, there is a number of exemptions that may help, but do be aware that they must be backed up with relevant proof from either a local authority, or professional body in order to be relied on. You will also need to supply the address of the property, details of which exemption you are hoping to utilise and a copy of the property’s current EPC.

You can register an exemption online here.

You can register your property for an exemption if:

Name of exemptionWhat you need to be able to prove
Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(b) exception – where a recommended measure is not a “relevant energy efficiency improvement” because the cost of purchasing and installing it cannot be wholly financed at no cost to the landlord (see Regulation 24(3))
  • A description of why you have been unable to obtain adequate ‘no cost’ funding.
  • Any evidence to demonstrate that you have been unable to access relevant ‘no cost’ funding to fully cover the cost of installing improvement that will increase the rating (refusal letters etc)

A consultation is currently underway in which the Government plan to place a ‘cost cap ‘ of £2,5000 on this exemption. This means that a landlord will have to first spend up to £2,500 on changes, before they are able to register an exemption based on lack of additional funding availability.

Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(a) exception – where all relevant improvements have been made and the property remains below an E
  • Details of any energy efficiency improvement recommended for the property including any documents prepared by a RICS-qualified surveyor or a Green Deal Advice Report
  • Full details, including receipts, installation documentation, associated paperwork of any energy efficiency improvements that have been made to the property
Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(b) exception – where the property is below an E and there are no relevant improvements which can be made
  • A copy of the relevant report (prepared by a RICS-qualified surveyor) stating that there are no relevant improvements that could be made
Registering a wall insulation exemption under regulation 24(2)
  • A copy of a report (prepared by a RICS-qualified surveyor) clearly stating that the property's built structure is not suitable for wall insulation, and installing this method would have a detrimental impact on the property, or the building of which it is a part.
Registering a consent exemption under regulation 31(1)
  • A copy of any correspondence, contributing documentation, or supporting evidence that you attempted to gain consent to make energy efficiency changes to the property, but consent was refused, or was granted subject to a condition that you could not comply with.

If you plan to register this exemption as your tenant has refused consent to allow you to make changes, bear in mind that it is only applicable as long as the tenant lives at the property, and you will need to seek to make improvements when the tenant leaves the property (or after five years when the exemption runs out, whichever is sooner).

Registering a devaluation exemption under regulation 32(1)
  • A copy of the report prepared by an independent RICS-qualified surveyor that provides evidence that the installation of relevant measures would devalue the property by more than 5%.
Registering an exemption upon recently becoming a landlord (regulation 33(1) or (3))
  • The date that you took over the property as the landlord
  • The circumstances under which you became the landlord.

This exemption will only last six months

You should ensure that you keep evidence of any surveyors reports and receipts of work completed, which will act as evidence should you seek to get an exemption. An exemption, which will be made public on the Exemptions Register, lasts for five years, during which time you are expected to make every attempt to increase the EPC rating. If this is not possible, a further exemption may be granted.

If your property is granted an exemption,details will be posted here.

Is there a way to sneak an exemption through if I don’t want the pressure of getting the work done?

No. It’s not even worth trying, there’s some hefty penalties attached to attempting to falsify an exemption, so don’t attempt this under any circumstances! If you provide false information to the Exemptions Register, you could be hit with a fine of up to £1,000.

Failing to comply with MEES isn’t an option either. Renting out a non-compliant property carries its own heavy penalties. If you let a non-compliant property for less than three months, you could be looking at a bill of £4k, any longer than that and it creeps up to £5,000!

You’ll probably also receive a compliance notice from your local council (failing to comply with this will add £2,000 to your bill) and upon receipt of this, the issuing of the notice is published, so people can be made aware of you shirking your landlord duty.

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