26/03/2014

Top tips on replacing illegal R22 in air conditioning

POSTED IN General

Did you know that from the end of this year it will be illegal to use R22 refrigerant (new, recycled or reclaimed) in existing air-conditioning equipment?

The options are simple. Replace your whole AC unit or use an alternative modern refrigerant gas to top it up – which will still involve replacing major parts of your current AC system.

What is R22?

R22 is an ozone depleting gas currently used in the majority of air conditioning systems that were installed before 2004. Since 2010, new or “virgin” R22 has been banned in all EU Member States.

Recycled or reclaimed R22 has been an exception to the rule until now. From 1 January 2015, use of any R22 will become illegal. Breach of the relevant EU Regulations could result in a summary conviction and maximum statutory penalty.

Replacement of an entire AC system is, of course, expensive. Modification of an existing AC system which uses R22 may be possible but, even if you can modify, it may be inefficient and increase energy costs which owners / occupiers are already trying to avoid.

So who pays?

If you are the owner / occupier of a commercial or residential building with air-conditioning containing R22, then you alone will be hit by the costs and you need to get your AC system altered or changed before the end of this year.

If the building is let to a single tenant and the tenant is responsible for the repair and maintenance of the whole building (including plant and equipment), it is likely that the tenant is required to replace equipment which can no longer be repaired.

It will depend on the wording of the repairing covenant and your lease is the first place to look. If the landlord has responsibility for maintaining the plant and equipment then the works need to be done at his cost.

If the building is let to several tenants, then the landlord will want to recover the cost of replacement or modification through the service charge. Whether the landlord can do this is dependant on the wording of your lease. In multi-let buildings, the service charge provisions of all leases should be checked because the terms may have been negotiated and there could be differences.

Other offences

If the works are not carried out before the end of this year, tenants could not only be committing a statutory offence, but could also be in breach of the covenant in your lease (on complying with statutory obligations). This may give rise to the landlord attempting to forfeit your lease.

2014 could be an expensive year for landlords and tenants. If you need help getting to grips with the implications of R22 then please do get in touch.

29 January 2014

Jennifer Chappell – See more at: http://www.bdb-law.co.uk/our-insights/blogs/real-estate-blog/2014/01/top-tips-on-replacing-illegal-r22-in-air-conditioning?