There is less than two weeks remaining until new Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) come into force across England and Wales, and yet more than 400,000 properties currently fail to meet the energy performance standards, which means that many buy-to-let landlords need to take action now if they wish to avoid legal headaches in the near future.

The 2015 Energy Efficiency Regulations, passed in March 2015, set out minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) for England and Wales. These regulations make it unlawful for landlords to grant a new lease for properties that have an energy performance certificate (EPC) rating below E, from 1 April 2018, unless the property is registered as an exemption.

Careful planning and preparation will be required to mitigate the potential impact, because any landlord found to be letting a sub-standard property in direct breach of the new regulations would be at risk of prosecution, which must be enforced by local authorities with a civil penalty imposed for breaches.

Some properties may only need a couple of inexpensive tweaks to bring them in line with the new regulatory requirements, while others may require substantial works, which come at a cost.

ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox said: “From 1st April, all rented properties on new lets [including renewals] must be minimum EPC rated E.

“Landlords have been responding to tenants’ demands for better quality and better insulated homes over the last few years; the number of properties which are EPC rated F or G has fallen from around 700,000 in 2012, to 300,000 today. However, there are still a lot which don’t meet the standards.

“After the deadline passes at the end of this month, landlords face fines of up to £4,000 for flouting the law, or losing money on empty properties which can’t be let until they meet the standards. This will also have implications on the wider rental market, which is in the midst of a serious supply crisis.

“There are Green Deal finance plans available and you can contact companies such as Propertymark’s industry supplier ECO-Energi to find out how to upgrade your property for a low cost.

“For any landlords who haven’t yet started to upgrade their properties, now is the time to act – and quickly.”