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New EPC legislation - an own goal for energy efficiency?

22nd Feb 2012

Category: Property headlines

Tagged: Legislation

Comfort Letting Agents in Nottingham are gearing up for a new energy performance certificate (EPC) regime being rolled out across England and Wales from 6th April this year, but will the changes bring about a step forward in energy efficiency in the private rented sector?

The new rules apply to all properties – whether residential or commercial – and bring the rules for letting and selling in to line.  In summary:

From 6th April a property owner or agent must ensure:

  • An EPC is commissioned before marketing a property for sale or rent.
  • That evidence of commissioning an EPC is available on request to trading standards officers, who have a new powers to demand this.
  • To try to make sure the EPC is available within seven days of a property coming to market – or no later than 28 days from the marketing date.
  • The front page of the EPC is available with any property marketing particulars – whether print, online or email documents.
  • Give a full copy of the EPC to prospective buyers or tenants before they view a property.

Points 1 to 3 are slightly dull and really just process guidance for letting agents/landlords.  However, I want to focus a little on point 4 and especially point 5.  These seem slightly more interesting.

Point 4.  Agents, landlords and tenants have mixed views on the effectiveness of EPC legislation, but most people agree that transparency leads to more informed decisions and helps improve quality.  If it is heavily publicised to tenants that a property is very energy inefficient, they may decide not to rent the property.  The hope would be that this feedback is actioned and improvements are made to the property to make it more energy efficient.  From the point of view of the legislation, this works. (ish!)

Point 5.  This is where Brussels has lost me.   I understand why there is a drive to improve awareness of energy efficiency issues, fine, but why on earth should agents or landlords be printing off a FULL COPY of an EPC for any prospective tenant before they have even viewed the property?  To me, this is absolute madness and completely scores an own goal for energy efficiency and all things green.  Full EPC documents are at minimum 6 pages in length (without mentioning the updates that will be made to the graphs – who knows how long the document may end up) and will inevitably lead to over zealous office buds running to the nearest printer to fire off 15 copies of EPCs for the viewings representatives' appointments they have scheduled in that day.  I really think this point is overkill, when you consider prospective tenants will already have been handed a copy of the front page of the EPC displayed on the property particulars!

Here are a couple of housekeeping points:

  • Properties already on the market with an EPC do not need another certificate on 6th April.
  • EPC design also changes with the new rules – complicated graphs on the front page are replaced with clearer details about energy costs and how to cut them.

I guess the sentiment of the change is probably the right thing, and it's likely, the net effect of the change will bring an overall improvement in the energy efficiency in the private rented sector.  It just seems that as always, the devil is in the detail, and it's the detail in this case, that hasn't been thought through very carefully!

Full details of this legislative change can be found online:###a href="http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2011/2452/contents/made">  Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011

Tom Kite

Comfort Partner

An experienced Nottingham Property Specialist and a Founding Partner of Comfort Lettings.

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