I Am The Blog

The latest property news from your online estate agent.

Changes To EPC Regulations Now In Place Could Hit Unprepared Landlords Hard

A raft of changes to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regulations finally came into force last week after being delayed for several months last year. Although EPC requirements for properties being sold and rented have changed numerous times since their introduction four years ago, the latest round of amendments – made to incorporate further European legislation and clarify current grey areas – have a number of ramifications for landlords and estate agents with fines for non-compliance.

The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) (Amendment) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/2452) became law on 6th April 2012. It amends the Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.

What is the current legislation and why is it changing?
The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2007 requires an Energy Performance Certificate to be made available to the prospective buyer or tenant of a property by the owner, landlord (or his / her agent). Regulation 5 of the current EPC legislation requires that an EPC be provided ‘at the earliest opportunity’ in order to inform the buyer or tenant about the energy efficiency of the building.

In its impact assessment presented to Parliament prior to the legislation changes being passed, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) suggested that compliance was low, leading to poorly informed consumers – a fact attributed to the caveat ‘at the earliest opportunity’. The impact assessment also citied a high number of poor quality and fraudulent EPCs as reasons for change.

In its outline of policy objectives, the DCLG stated a desire to improve compliance and provide interested buyers and potential tenants with reliable, useful information. This information is intended to help relevant parties make an informed decision about rental or purchasing.

According to the DCLG, “The [revised] EPB Regulations will be more consistent and coherent, which will result in improved compliance and make non compliance easier to detect. Improved compliance will provide better information to develop proposals to improve the energy performance of buildings and to monitor EPBD implementation.” (Source: Energy Performance of Buildings Directive - Compliance and Enforcement, Impact Assessment).

What are the main changes and areas of interest for private landlords and letting agents?

Regulation 5A of the new legislation requires an EPC to be obtained before marketing of a property for sale or rental commences. Although this has been the case previously, this requirement is being tightened up to reduce non-compliance with landlords, vendors or agent acting on their behalf now allowed just 7 days to secure an EPC in place of the previous 28 days. A 21 day extension to the 7 day period can be requested but it must be proven that ‘reasonable steps’ are being taken to obtain the EPC.

Production of documentation requirements are also changing, with the owner, landlord or their estate agent now required to attach the EPC to ‘written particulars’ of the property or state the asset rating on the written particulars. Where previously this was required just for buildings being sold, the new legislation also makes it a requirement for rented property.

The legal responsibility to procure an EPC currently resides with the seller or landlord. But amendments to the EPB Regulations mean that both landlords and agents can be fined if an EPC is not completed within the requisite time period. Trading Standards Officials have been given powers to check whether this has been done and issue fines of up to £200.00 per property to letting agents or the landlord when this is not the case. The front page of the EPC must also be included on any marketing particulars for the property, be that online or otherwise.

For first time landlords or those acting independently of an agent, a greater legislative burden must be carefully managed. The requirement for an EPC to be made available at the start of marketing a property demands a higher level of preparation and investment before tenants can be sought. Care must also be taken when drafting the particulars of a property to ensure that the EPC information is suitably referenced whether advertising in a local shop window or advertising a property online.

How Can I Am The Agent help you remain compliant?

The new legislation requires that you must have an EPC document to hand before renting a property online or selling a property online. Our online management suite already includes a field to upload the property EPC document when you create your property listing. As long as you upload the relevant document, we will take care of the rest and ensure the EPC information is visible along with the particulars of the property. This means there is no undue delay to property marketing or the successful sale/rental of the building.

We can also arrange for an EPC to be obtained for any property not currently in possession of one.

Comments are closed