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Quick guide to Energy Performance Certificates

Since the 1st of October 2008, all landlords - whether in the social or private rented sector of the housing market or the landlord of commercial property - are required to have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) when the premises are let.

The following represents a brief distillation of the main points of the relevant legislation and reflect the contents of a helpful guide published by the Department of Communities and Local Government:

Purpose

  • an EPC is designed to inform any prospective tenant of the energy efficiency they might be thinking of renting;
  • the certificate therefore needs to be produced by an accredited assessor following a detailed inspection of the property concerned;

What it shows

  • in addition to the EPC showing the energy efficiency of the dwelling - namely a guide to what it might cost to run - it also indicates the environmental impact of the dwelling;
  • both factors are expressed in terms of a rating (A to G - with A being the best and G being the worst) taking into account the way the property is laid out, its age, the construction materials used, the insulation installed, the heating and the lighting;
  • since energy efficiency takes into account the cost of fuel when the EPC was carried out, it might be interesting to note that these costs might be up to 10 years out of date;
  • the principal areas of inspection of either residential property or commercial premises are likely to focus on the type of construction used and the provision of hot water and heating;
  • access is going to be required, therefore, to all of the rooms, any boiler and heaters and energy meters;

Validity

  • an EPC is valid for ten years and each tenant occupying the premises is entitled to receive a copy of it as soon as possible after signing the lease agreement;
  • the same EPC remains valid for the ten years however many changes of tenancy there may be during this period;

Certification

  • the official government website offers a link for finding the suitably qualified and accredited assessor, although there is nothing stopping you or one of your employees from seeking accreditation in your own right in order facilitate EPC inspections of any number of let properties you may own;
  • since your obligations under these regulations may have an impact on your landlord insurance provisions, you may want to discuss any implications with a specialist provider of such cover;

Dwellings

  • for the purposes of these requirements and EPC assessment and certificate is needed only for let dwellings;
  • a dwelling is a self-contained residential unit, which may be a house, part of a house or a flat, but excludes rooms or bedsits where facilities (such as bathrooms and kitchens) are shared;
  • if you let out a room or part of your own home where facilities are shared, therefore, you are not subject to the EPC requirements;

Commercial premises

  • if you are the landlord of commercial property it is also important to bear in mind that your EPC certificate needs to be on display if it is visited frequently by members of the public, is more than 500 sq. metres in floor area, and the EPC has been prepared for the building's construction, sale or rental;

Penalties

  • the regulations are enforced by the Trading Standards officers of your local authority;
  • in the case of residential dwelling, you may be fined - by fixed penalty - up to £200 for each dwelling for which you are unable to produce an EPC certificate;
  • in the case of commercial or business property, the landlord may be fined anywhere between £500 and £5,000, depending on the rateable value of the premises.

As may be seen, therefore, EPCs are designed to provide an element of standardisation when it comes to the energy efficiency of both residential and commercial property. As the landlord of any such premises, it is likely to repay you to stay abreast of the relevant legislation and comply with the current rules in order to avoid any financial penalty.