Energy Performance Certificates
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) shows the energy efficiency rating of the property giving it a rating from A (very efficient) to G (very inefficient).
The report gives the user of the building an indication of how costly it will be to heat and light the building and what its carbon emissions are likely to be.
EPCs link with the Energy Company Obligation and provide information on how to obtain finance to install energy efficiency measures into the home. A new style EPC, incorporating this information, was introduced in April 2012.
Existing reports can be viewed on the National EPC Register - see Useful links.
How long are they valid?
10 years. The same EPC can be re-used if the property is re-let or re-sold during this period. EPCs cannot be amended - if there are significant changes to the property (e.g. a new heating system) a new EPC should be commissioned. Although not strictly necessary if the existing EPC is less than 10yrs old, any improvements may have a positive effect on the energy rating, thereby making the property more attractive to tenants.
When must an EPC be obtained?
An EPC is required on the rent, sale or exchange of a residential property. It is required for:
- Individual house or dwelling - a self contained property with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities (one EPC);
- Self contained flats - each behind its own front door with its own kitchen and bathroom facilities (one EPC for each flat);
- Shared flats or houses - where the whole flat or house is let to a group of people on one tenancy (one EPC);
- Where a property exchange occurs, whether via a choice based lettings system or not (one EPC for each property)
There are circumstances when an EPC is not required, for example:
- For a renewal of a lease with existing tenants. However, if there is a change in the tenants when the tenancy is renewed e.g. because one tenant moves out and is replaced by another a copy of the EPC should be provided to the new tenant before they sign up;
- For properties which are not self-contained e.g. rooms in a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). However, if the whole property was sold or rented it would need an EPC;
- For rooms that are rented to lodgers.
Please be aware that these definitions are subject to change by the Government. A landlord should check before deciding whether an EPC is not required.
For a full list refer to the EPC: guide for landlords and sellers in Useful links
What must the landlord do before letting the property?
If an agent is being used, the EPC will be provided to the prospective tenant by the agent but it is ultimately the responsibility of the landlord to make sure this is done.
The landlord must:
- Commission and obtain an EPC from a Domestic Energy Assessor unless one is already available. To find a registered assessor, visit the National EPC Register website - see Useful links;
The EPC should be available within 7 days and the landlord must be able to show that they have contacted a Domestic Energy Assessor and commissioned the report with a view to receiving it within one week of it being commissioned. If it proves impossible to obtain the report within a week, a further 21 days is allowed but properties cannot be marketed for rent after 28 days if the EPC is still not available;
- Ensure that all lettings advertisements in the commercial media* show the EPC rating of the property being advertised;
*newspapers, magazines, letting /estate agents marketing material, internet.
- Make available a copy of the complete EPC including the recommendation report to any prospective tenant free of charge. A prospective tenant is one who arranges a viewing or requests further information about the property;
- The EPC should be provided in whichever format the prospective buyer or tenant has requested e.g. hard copy or electronically as a document or web link;
- Give the tenant a copy of the EPC before he/she signs the tenancy agreement, again free of charge. This applies even if they have already seen it. From 1st October 2015, if a landlord fails to provide the EPC to the tenant at the start of the tenancy, the landlord cannot issue a Section 21 'notice requiring possession'. For more details, see the Tenancy Agreements link in Related articles.
Breaching the rules on EPCs carries the risk of £200 fines - probably around three or four times the average price of most EPCs.
If you are a buyer or a tenant and you do not receive an EPC, you should contact Trading Standards at Lincolnshire County Council through the Citizens Advice helpline on 03454 04 05 06.
Why is it important to read the EPC?
- The EPC gives information about a property's energy use and typical energy costs. Although these are based on an average family, it does allow the occupier of the property to compare different properties, to decide which property is best for their circumstances. A property with a low energy rating (e.g. F or G) will be more expensive to heat than a property with a higher rating. A tenant who struggles to pay the energy bills may also struggle to pay the rent;
- The EPC also gives recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money. It gives details of where to find out more information about installing energy efficient measures in the home. For further information on making energy efficiency improvements in residential properties, see Green Deal in Related articles;
Although the EPC may suggest a number of improvements that could be made there is generally no legal obligation to undertake any of these works. An EPC does not identify hazards under the Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS); however, if a full HHSRS inspection is carried out by the local authority and a Category 1 hazard is identified in the property, this may result in enforcement action under the Housing Act 2004. An energy efficiency rating of F or G on an EPC could indicate a Category 1 hazard for Excess Cold. For further information see HHSRS in Related articles.
Since April 2016, no domestic private sector landlord will be able to refuse a tenant's request to make energy-efficiency improvements. Further information can be found under Useful links.
From 2018, it will illegal to let out a private rented property unless it meets a minimum energy-efficiency standard (expected to be EPC rating E). Landlords should meet the minimum standard or make full use of any financial assistance available for energy efficiency improvements. It may therefore not be possible to let properties with ratings of F or G.
This is part of the Energy Act 2011 and it is expected that Government will issue further guidance before the introduction of these standards.