Why new MEES could complicate commercial lets

by Ian Laurie, Director

Originally published by RICS Journal

Despite the fact that an energy performance certificate (EPC) has until recently typically cost a few hundred pounds, commercial property transactions can run into millions of pounds – so there has been little incentive for owners, or indeed investors, to give consideration to the resultant energy rating.

It has therefore been simply a minor part of the due diligence process. This is in no small degree due to there being no minimum standard at the time EPCs were introduced.

When the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were implemented in 2018, a rating of at least E was required for all new leases. However, a substantial number of properties have no current EPCs; either because they are let on existing leases, or because of factors such as the expiry of the previous EPC or even the legislation simply being ignored. This system is now about to change.

On 1 April, the first stage of the MEES will extend to all commercial leases. The government is now enforcing the requirements, and sending warnings to property owners about the need to upgrade buildings.

The wider position in England and Wales is also set to change, with incremental increases to the minimum rating over the next seven years. A rating of C will be required for new commercial property leases from April 2025, or 2027 in the case of existing leases, and an anticipated minimum of a B rating by 2030.

It is important to note that the position with residential leases differs, and a current minimum E rating will move up to a C by 2030. The domestic EPC calculation also differs from the non-domestic method, and is considerably simpler in its modelling.

Ian Laurie BSc MRICS
Technical Director

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