Energy Performance Certificates
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are needed whenever a property is built, sold or rented and must be ordered for potential buyers and tenants before being marketed. They are produced by Domestic Energy Assessors (who must be qualified and accredited) and provide a record of the energy efficiency rating of a building. All buildings are assessed on a scale of A to G with A being the most efficient and G the least efficient. Improvements will also be recommended such as the installation wall insulation (inside and out), upgrading a boiler, or double/triple glazed windows. The average rating of an EPC is D with older homes being between E and G. New builds are rated between A and C.
The assessor is responsible for registering it on the EPC Register and they are available to view or download free of charge. The register can be searched either by the address or by the Register’s RRN Reference number.
The Recast of the Energy Performance in Buildings Directive was translated into UK law under the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections)(England and Wales)(Amendment) Regulations 2012.
So from January 2013 under this legislation, whilst the onus remains on the ‘relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to commission an EPC before marketing, the following are legal requirements:
- Estate agents and other third parties must ensure that an EPC has been commissioned before they can market a property for sale or rent;
- All advertisements for either selling or renting property must clearly show the energy rating of the building. This is not confined to on-line advertising but includes newspapers, magazines and any written material produced by the landlords/estate agents and letting agents. Whilst there is no requirement to display the full certificate if there is enough space, the advertisement should show the A-G graph. It is no longer possible to include only the asset rating;
- The seller or landlord must provide an EPC free of charge to a prospective buyer or tenant as soon as possible with a copy of the EPC also provided to the successful buyer or whoever takes the tenancy;
- The current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using ‘reasonable efforts’ is reduced to 7 days and if after that 7-day period the EPC has not been secured the relevant person will have a further 21 days in which to do so;
- Air conditioning reports must be registered.
From the 1st April 2016 tenants have the right to request that their landlords make energy-saving improvements to the home that they rent and landlords cannot refuse consent without good reason. Any property that has an Energy Performance Rating (EPC) of less than ‘E’ must now carry out works to improve it to a rating of E or above, or face penalties of up to £4,000. There are however some instances in which a landlord can refuse permission for improvements to be made, such as:
1: The tenant made a request within the preceding six months and the landlord complied;
2: The improvement is the same, (or substantially the same) as one which the landlord proposed within the preceding six months but which the tenant either refused or failed to respond to.
ENERGY EFFICIENT REGULATIONS
The Energy Efficiency Regulations will come into force for new lettings on 1st April 2018. It will be illegal to both market and rent a property with a rating less than F or G. Existing tenancies will not be able to be renewed from 1st April 2020 for the same reason and from 1st April 2023 this will apply to all existing tenancies in addition to any new ones that may be granted. So any rentals that still fall in the ‘F’ and ‘G’ performance category will place those landlords in regulatory breach (unless there is an exemption).
Note: These regulations will not however apply to lettings of less than 6 months or long leases above 99 years.
A property will also be exempted if it has:
- a) already had energy saving measures put in place or b) no such measures can be undertaken;
- Third party consent is unobtainable from parties such as planning departments, mortgage lenders, superior landlords or in instances where consent to access the property is not given;
- When any independent surveyor states that such energy upgrades would reduce the property value by more than 5% or cause damage.
POWERS OF TRADING STANDARDS OFFICERS
Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) currently have the power to require the ’relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to produce copies of the EPC for inspection and to take copies if necessary. The power to require the production of documents is now extended to include persons acting on behalf of the seller or landlord – e.g. estate agents and letting agents. This means, for example, that TSOs will be authorised to require estate agents to produce evidence showing that an EPC has been commissioned where they are marketing a building without one.
TSO’s also have access to the Landmark Registry where all EPCs are stored.