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Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and Tenancies

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) give information on the energy efficiency of buildings. An EPC provides an Energy Performance rating on a sliding scale from ‘A’ to ‘G’ with ‘A’ being the most efficient and ‘G’ the least (see example below).

Energy Efficiency Rating

Ratings will be influenced by the size, age, layout and insulation among other things. Running costs are estimated based on how the property will be used, the number of occupants etc.

The EPC also includes recommended measure for making your property more energy efficient.

When do you need an energy performance certificate?

Did you know that from the 1st October 2008, an Energy Performance Certificate is required whenever you sell or rent out a property? Furthermore this assessment must be completed by a qualified Domestic Energy Assessor and provided to the prospective buyer or tenant before they sign up to your property. The purpose of an Energy Performance Certificate is to better inform any potential resident of the current energy efficiency rating of the property. This enables the resident to gauge what they could expect their heating bill to be in the future and how the property could be made more thermally efficient.

Many owners have ensured that their properties thermal efficiency is improved before entering it onto the market. This can give the property a much greater appeal to prospective residents, and in the current housing market any benefit possible will be an advantage and may mean that the property is let or sold much more quickly.

Before you consider getting an Energy Performance Certificate completed it is worthwhile spending a few pound on some upgrades within your home. For example the installation of loft insulation and energy saving light bulbs will make a real difference to the amount of energy the property will use and as such will improve the rating. Other measures may include adding cavity wall insulation or even upgrading the current heating system to one which is more modern and energy efficient.

Once completed an Energy Performance Certificate will remain valid for a period of up to ten years and can be used repeatedly. If you do decide to make some upgrades to your property then you can commission a new certificate at any point, the new certificate will then replace the previous one and will again last for ten years. The certificate will give a number of recommendations and will give a projected rating if these are acted upon.

How do I find a Domestic Energy Assessor?

Finding a Domestic Energy Assessor is simple, if you take a look at the governments website and input the details of where the property is located then you will be able to download a list of qualified Assessors who are located and work in that area, its then just a case of giving them a call and arranging an appointment. Every assessor on the register will be fully qualified and be part of a government accredited scheme so you can be sure that the service you receive will be second to none. The cost of an assessment will typically be in the region of £40 – £80 per property.

Alternatively a search on the web will bring back a number of Domestic Energy Assessor results, however it is still beneficial to check their details on the governments register to ensure they are fully qualified and accredited.

What should I look out for?

If you are considering renting or purchasing a property then it is vitally important that you take the time to look at the Energy Performance Certificate and to understand what it says. The main area you will be concerned about is how efficient the property currently is. The way in which a property is assessed is similar to that of a Washing Machine where it is graded from A – G. If the property is classified towards the G category then this will without a doubt mean that the running costs for the property in terms of heating and electricity will be high, perhaps the central heating system is old or there is little in the way in insulation. If looking to purchase the property then it is not unreasonable to highlight these elements as part of the negotiation process. If a property has a rating to the highest end of the scale then you will be pleased to hear that your energy bills will be vastly reduced and the property has a good level of thermal efficiency.

From October 1st 2008, when you enquire about a property, or sign up to a tenancy, your landlord must make available (free of charge) a copy of the energy Performance certificate, usually just called an EPC. This will enable you to judge how energy efficient the property is, and how much it will cost to run.

When purchasing a property, again the EPC will be a fundamental part of the Home Information Pack and will be made available to view before you decide to proceed with the property. The estate agent has a legal obligation to ensure the correct documentation is in place and they will be able to give you further details regarding the property and its rating.

Lastly, if you are considering renting a property, remember that you are limited to the number of alterations you are able to make. Whilst if you were purchasing a property you would be able to make the necessary improvements, when renting you will be reliant on your landlord. Therefore highlight to the landlord at the first instance if you feel that the property has a poor rating and negotiate with them to get the property more efficient. If the landlord refuses, then you can make an informed decision about the property you are about to make your home and decide if you can live with the current thermal comfort. In today’s market there are a high number of properties available to rent so take the time to make sure you will be happy with your new home.

What happens if no EPC is provided?

If you have not been supplied with details of the Energy Performance Certificate, you should make a formal complain to your local Trading Standards who will have a designated officer managing this process. They will request the EPC, and can ultimately issue a penalty notice of £200 as well as enforcing provision of the EPC.