Switched-on landlords can take full advantage of two money-saving schemes to help them comply with new rules on Minimum Energy Efficiency (MEE) standards and avoid a £4,000 fine.

From April 1 2020 all rental homes must be at a minimum of EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) band E, whether a new lease is being signed or not.

This means existing tenants in properties below the new minimum standard have the right to demand to be upgraded.

More than 300,000 properties are likely to be affected by these regulations.

However – it’s not all bad news as there are a couple of options available to landlords.

1. A Green Deal Loan on a “Pay As You Save” Basis

The first option is to take out a government backed Green Deal loan to spread the cost of upgrading. This can then be repaid by the savings made on reduced energy bills.

Under the Green Deal, landlords will be able to make energy efficiency improvements without having to pay all the costs upfront.

Tenants will repay the cost of the measures through their energy bill savings whilst enjoying a more energy efficient home.

Where the property is rented, both the landlord/provider and tenant must give permission for a Green Deal to be set up.

The tenant, as the electricity bill payer, will be responsible - as is currently the case with energy bill defaults.

As responsibility for paying the energy bill reverts from the tenant to the landlord when a property becomes vacant, so too will the Green Deal repayments during vacant periods.

When a new tenant moves in, they will need to be aware of the Green Deal and acknowledge the repayments they need to make.

Landlords must provide a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) or in Scotland, the EPC and Recommendations Report.

You can find more about the government-backed scheme here.

2. Energy Company Obligation (ECO) for Home owners and Tenants on Benefits

The second option for landlords is to consult with their tenants and establish if they are claiming any sort of benefits or financial assistance from the government.

There are various grants available under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This is a government energy efficiency scheme in Great Britain to help reduce Carbon Emissions and tackle Fuel Poverty.

Under the scheme, large energy suppliers MUST deliver energy efficiency measures to homes in Great Britain such as Room-in-Roof insulation, Loft Insulation, Internal Wall Insulation, Under-floor Insulation, replace broken or over 7 year old Boilers and up-grade Electric Room Heaters to High Heat Retention Storage Heaters.

All of these measures will greatly improve the energy efficiency of the property and more than likely increase the EPC to at least the minimum standard that is now required from April 2020.

David Curran from Green Deal installers Euro Insulation says: “One of the biggest things we do for Green Deal is to replace boilers. Old, out of date boilers are not only energy inefficient, but are going to start costing you in terms of maintenance and repairs.

"The next port of call for most people is loft insulation. With 25% of heat loss through the roof, installing new loft insulation will be effective in warming your property for around 40 years, lower you carbon emission and reduce heating bills, potentially saving you hundreds if not thousands of pounds.”

Home-owners or tenants receiving any of the following are eligible:

- Income related employment and support allowance
- Income based Job seeker's allowance
- Income support
- State Pension Credit (In receipt of Pension Credit Guarantee Credit or both Guarantee Credit and
Savings Credit)
- Tax credits, and meet income threshold
- Universal Credit
- Armed forces independent payment
- Attendance allowance
- Carer’s allowance
- Disability allowance
- Severe Disablement allowance
- War pensions mobility supplement
- Industrial injuries disablement benefit
- Personal independence payment
- Constant attendance allowance

Those that do not qualify via the above may also be eligible through their home council. Each council across the UK publish a ‘Statement of Intent’ online to tackle fuel poverty.