It is generally accepted that R22 refrigerant contributes towards the depletion of the ozone layer, although the extent of which is still subject to intense debate. Arising from the Kyoto and Montreal Protocols and EC Regulations 2037/2000, 842/2006 and 1005/2009 the use of R22 refrigerant is being phased out.
Since the 1st of January 2010 the use of virgin R22 (and other HCFCs) has been prohibited. Consequently only recycled R22 can be used during maintenance repair. From the 1st of January 2015 the use of recycled R22 will also be prohibited. Therefore if your plant relies on the use of R22 it is likely that maintenance and servicing will become impractical or even impossible. There are legal R22 substitutes available but often this is at the expense of efficiency and therefore the plant may not be fit for purpose.
To re-gas an existing 500KW air cooled unit with an R22 substitute could cost up to £20,000.00. Only plant in good condition can be re-gassed with an R22 substitute as these operate at higher pressures which put additional strain upon the components. If the plant is not suitable for re-gassing a new 500KW air cooled unit using either ammonia or R404A is likely to cost circa £100,000.00.
There are ways that Landlords can pass these costs onto building occupiers. If the property has a single occupier on a full repairing lease, the tenant may be liable as part of their dilapidations. If the property is multi-occupied with the Landlord liable for common plant it is likely that the expenditure can be recovered via the service charge.
Considering the above and the potential costs it is vital that Landlords seek professional advice, whether as part of routine plant maintenance, service charge considerations or at lease end. Tenants should seek advice as to the condition of A/C plant well before lease end or prior to taking a new lease.