Farmers in Cumbria are being warned to prepare for changes in the law that will require landlords to ensure properties meet minimum energy-efficiency standards.

Those with tenanted properties in particular are being urged to plan ahead for new rules that come into force in April 2018 and will require properties to meet an Energy Performance Certificate rating of E or higher.

The warning comes from Eden Valley company Robson & Liddle, which believes many farmers and rural landlords could be caught out by the changes.

Julie Liddle, a director of the chartered surveyors, said: “These changes mean every landlord in England and Wales must ensure their buildings meet the standards or risk fines.

“Put simply, the rules mean there can be no letting of properties where energy-efficiency standards fall below the prescribed standard.

“For many landlords it could require significant investment in things like new renewable heating systems and double glazing.”

From April 1, 2018, Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations will cover new or renewed lettings of domestic and commercial properties. From 2020, MEES will apply to all domestic properties. From 2023, they will also cover all commercial leases.

Owners of non-compliant properties will risk fines of up to £150,000 per non-domestic property and £5,000 per domestic property.

Such is the backlash by landlords over the changes, there’s speculation as to whether MEES will make it into law in line with the proposed timetable. However, Julie believes landlords are going to need to act on energy efficiency at some stage.

She added: “In the absence of any information to the contrary, now is the time to start preparing for this potentially expensive and time-consuming change.

“Property owners should take professional advice to investigate what is needed.

“Landlords may be tempted to do the bare minimum, but it’s clear that MEES will become more stringent over time. It may be worth investing now to reach a level E or higher to avoid having to go through the process again in a few years’ time.”