Property Sellers and Energy Performance Certificates

Home Information Pack (HIP) legislation may have been scrapped in 2010, but anyone that puts their house up for sale will still need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) from the first day of advertising it.

The advantage to new sellers entering the market is the cost of providing an EPC is around 10 per cent of what a HIP would have cost them. On the plus side for more established sellers, those that already have a current HIP in place will not need to get an EPC because they will already have the certificate in the collection of documents arranged by the HIP provider. EPCs are however ‘time limited’, so see further information below.

There is a great deal of confusion about EPCs and this article hopes to clear the fog a little for existing sellers already in the market and for those intending to become new sellers in the months ahead.

What is an EPC?

The requirement for most properties being built, rented out, bought or sold to have an EPC began in 2007, when legislation was introduced to ensure those investing in a particular dwelling would have information about its energy efficiency. The certificate is rated from A to G, with A being the most energy efficient and G the lowest. It transpires that by far the majority of properties have a D rating. In addition to heating and ventilation systems, the assessment will also include an inspection of elements such as the extent of loft and cavity wall insulation and the quality of any double-glazing.

Government hopes that this information will eventually lead to residential properties reducing their carbon footprint, because owners will be more aware of how efficient or inefficient their homes are and will seek ways of improving their EPC rating. The certificate itself must also provide recommendations on how the building’s energy efficiency might be improved. It has been found that buildings produce almost half the entire UKs carbon emissions and this legislation is intended to reduce this alarming statistic over time.

EPCs are part of a Europe wide plan to reduce carbon emissions, which should go some way to halt and potentially perhaps even undo some of the consequences of climate change throughout the world.

Which type of buildings need to have an EPC?

Buildings that have a roof and walls and use any type of energy to produce or otherwise manipulate an internal climate (in other words, use heating or cooling systems) – need an EPC. Buildings that are compartmentalised need multiple EPCs, if each unit has a separate heating or ventilation system – for example, multi-let properties and apartment blocks.

Some buildings are exempt from this legislation. These include temporary buildings that are only intended to be used for 2 years or less, places of worship, any standalone building with a floor space of less than 50 square metres not intended for use as living accommodation, some industrial sites and agricultural buildings that do not use very much energy.

Who can supply an EPC to a property seller?

The certificates are drawn up using information gathered and collated by accredited energy assessors. Most EPCs will be arranged through and provided by an estate agent when a seller first enters the property market. Homeowners and landlords can also approach one of the many independent EPC suppliers advertising their services online and in the local and national press.

Alternatively, Landmark Information Group (who work for and on behalf of the Government) maintains a register of accredited assessors. Sellers can find the nearest available local assessor by visiting their website here: https://www.hcrregister.com/searchAssessor.html

How much will an EPC cost?

The cost of a certificate depends on a number of factors, not least the size of the property and how much time it takes an assessor to inspect it. The type and extent of the heating system will also influence the amount of work involved. Most certificates cost about £35 and no more than £50. If an estate agent or letting agent is involved in arranging the certificate or they need to provide access for the inspection to occur, additional costs may be involved.

How long does an EPC last?

Once obtained, a certificate will remain valid for 10 years. The same validity period applies to properties being bought, sold or rented. If a new-build dwelling is bought by an investor-landlord, the certificate issued as part of the sale process can later be used for rental purposes, if desired.

Can I put my home up for sale without an EPC?

Yes, but only if you can prove you have already ordered an EPC before the first day your property is advertised for sale. The legislation suggests the certificate must be reasonably expected to be available within 28 days. Provision of the certificate is down to the property owner, so if an estate agent fails in his or her duty to arrange it, both the owner AND the agent can EACH be fined £200.

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