What are EPC’s?
The need for Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s) comes from a European Union Directive that requires any building which is built or sold to have an EPC. The Directive is intended to tackle climate change by reducing the amount of carbon produced by buildings across the European Union. Nearly half of all carbon emissions in the UK come from buildings so they are all assessed on a scale of A (most efficient) to G (the least efficient) with the average rating of an EPC being D. Older homes rate between E and G and new builds are rated between A and C.
The EPC is important for potential buyers as it gives information about:
- The property’s general energy efficiency;
- How much energy it uses;
- What energy costs are involved in the running of the property.
The EPC also gives advice on how to improve the property’s energy efficiency, helping to further reduce energy costs.
An energy performance certificate has also been required on all rented property in England and Wales since 2008 and since January 2013 it has been a legal requirement for all advertised rental properties to clearly show an energy rating. It is the responsibility of the vendor to make sure the property is in possession of a valid EPC before it is marketed for sale, especially if the current one has expired. The buyer’s solicitor will request that an EPC is produced, and if the EPC is not produced by the required deadline, the vendor can face a penalty fine.
From 1st April 2016 as part of the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England) and Wales) Regulations 2015 tenants became able to apply to the landlord either for them to a) make energy-saving improvements to the property or b) for consent to be granted by the landlord for the tenant to carry out energy efficiency improvements themselves. Any refusal by the landlord to grant consent to either request requires a good reason.
There are however some instances in which a landlord can refuse permission for improvements to be made, such as:
- The tenant made a request within the preceding six months and the landlord complied;
- 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.
From April 2018 it became illegal to both market and rent a property with a rating of 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). A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for such breaches.
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:
- Already had energy saving measures put in place or 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.
WHO ISSUES EPC’S?
EPC’s are issued by Domestic Energy Assessors (who must be qualified and accredited) who will register the certificate on the EPC Register where they are available to view or download free of charge.
They will rate the property by looking at:
- The size and type of construction;
- The heating system, i.e. the type of boiler and how it is controlled;
- Existing wall/loft insulation
- Double glazing on windows and doors
The certificate will show the current grade of the property and what it could achieve if improvements were made.
The register can be searched either by the address or by the Register’s RRN Reference number. Improvements will also be recommended such as:
- The installation of wall insulation (inside and out);
- Upgrading a boiler or:
- Double/triple glazed windows.
Powers of Trading Standards Officers
Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) have the power to get 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 get 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 that TSOs for example will be authorised to get 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.
The Government are aiming to improve ratings in the private rented sector in England to a ‘D’ rating by 2025 and a ‘C’ rating by 2030.