11. Enforcement, sanctions and monitoring
As set out above, the costs of measures that need to be installed in order to meet the standard are generally relatively modest. They will also result in a more attractive product for landlords to offer to tenants. However, we have proposed that in some cases where the work cannot be completed due to technical, legal or excessive cost reasons, exemptions may apply in the form of abeyances and relaxations. Phasing the regulations in at point of rental ahead of the backstop date also means that most of the works can be done during periods of vacant access. For these reasons, we expect that in the vast majority of cases the minimum energy efficiency standard will be met without local authorities having to take enforcement action.
Local authorities will be responsible for identifying non-compliant properties and for enforcing the minimum energy efficiency standards. Each local authority can choose which function they use to enforce the standards. We think that most of the work will come from initially identifying which properties are below the minimum standard and identifying and pursuing enforcement action. Additional work will entail recording exemptions. Guidance will be published alongside the regulations to help local authorities fulfil this role.
The cost of enforcement will vary by local authority as it will partly depend on how many private rented properties there are in a local authority area that do not meet minimum standards and how many properties will require enforcement action. COSLA and SOLACE have expressed some concerns about the approach to enforcement of the regulations. Taking account of the concerns raised by them and others, we intend for the first phase of the regulations to take a soft launch approach. We plan to take a phased approach to the introduction of the regulations, similar to the introduction of Landlord Registration regulations, working in partnership with local areas to establish how the regulations bed down in practice. This means initially gathering evidence about non-compliance, identify and eliminate barriers and consider how these regulations can be used to strengthen existing programmes. We will also look at what work might be needed on existing databases to help local authorities to enforce the regulations. We will review this approach by 2022, for the second phase of the regulations and look to deliver a strengthened enforcement approach at this point.
Local authorities will issue fines where owners do not comply with minimum standards (without valid evidence for an exemption). We propose that there should be a maximum financial penalty of £5,000 for not complying with minimum standards, non-compliance with any compliance notice served or the provision of false information.
As part of the monitoring process, local authorities may wish to record the compliance of properties with the minimum standards, including where the rating identified by the assessment is lower than E or D, or where there are exemptions, to help assist with local housing stock condition work (for example Local Housing Strategies, etc.).