Since 1 October 2008, landlords and letting agents have been legally obligated to provide prospective tenants with a valid Energy Performance Certificate, should they request to see one. EPCs are carried out by accredited Domestic Energy Assessors and give landlords and tenants an indication of the energy usage and carbon dioxide emissions of a property, as well as guidelines for those wishing to improve the energy efficiency of their home. All letting and estate agents are required by law to commission a property’s EPC before they commence marketing it in any way; the agent must then be in ownership of the certificate within 28 days from when marketing began.
Currently, regulations governing how much of the EPC must be shared are very lax. Although the full report is usually several pages long, many letting agents only choose to share the EPC’s two summary graphs on their website, often omitting more detailed sections such as ‘Estimated energy useage and fuel costs of this home’.
In early 2011, the government announced that they would be introducing new legislation whereby agents would only have an initial seven days to procure an EPC from when marketing starts, as opposed to the current 28. Significantly, it was also announced that agents would have to attach the full EPC to property particulars, not just the graphs.
However, in early June 2011 the government admitted that they would miss their target of pushing the new legislation through by July 1st and declared that changes to EPC law would now be introduced on October 1st instead.
The government’s initial plans drew criticism from some quarters of the lettings and sales industry, who voiced concerns about the added paperwork that they would be required to produce. Under this criticism, the proposed changes were watered down so that agents and landlords will only be obliged to share the first page of the document. However, the first page of the EPC is due to be redesigned so that it also shows the key recommendations and their cost implications.
Towards the end of September 2011, the government announced that it was delaying its EPC changes yet again. At the time of writing, the commencement date for new EPC regulations has been pushed back to April 2012.
As it stands, many letting and estate agents still only choose to share the EPC graphs with their tenants. At Reside, we have always made full EPCs available on our website, and included the first page of the document on our property brochures. Click here to see an example of one of our EPCs.
Many thought that EPCs would be abolished when Home Information Packs were scrapped back in 2010. But, as EPCs are required by European law, it seems that they are here to stay – even if we do not know exactly what the government will do with them next.