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Energy Performance Certificate - compulsory for residential landlords

3-minute read

Rosie Beasley

15 June 2009

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Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) form an important part of the government's controversial Home Information Packs (HIPs).

They are part of the drive to comply with an EU directive on the sustainability and energy performance of various building types, and are now compulsory whenever a building is to be sold or rented.

What is the Energy Performance Certificate?

Energy Performance Certificates are designed to give an overview of the energy efficiency of an individual building. This is presented on a sliding scale, along with a report giving information on ways in which the building's energy performance could be improved.

Private residential landlords now have a legal obligation to provide tenants with a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate when renting out a property. The document must be provided before contracts are signed, or at the tenant's request.

Energy Performance Certificates present an easily interpretable selection of information regarding your property's energy efficiency. The sliding scale includes ratings from A to G, with A representing the most energy efficient and G the least. The average UK property is currently rated between D and E.

Every EPC is awarded based on exactly the same criteria, meaning that tenants and landlords can easily compare Certificates for different properties. The intention is that the EPC offers tenants a simple way of estimating the running costs of the property. In reality, however, this is not realistic. EPCs last for up to ten years, and estimated running costs are based on average energy prices at the time of the initial inspection. As such, the costs presented on the Certificate could be up to a decade out of date.

How do I get an Energy Performance Certificate?

Regardless of their limitations, however, private landlords are obliged to get an Energy Performance Certificate. EPCs are provided after an energy inspection, which can only be carried out by an accredited energy assessor or certified home inspector. If you have just bought a property, the EPC should be included in the Home Information Pack. Otherwise, you will need to arrange for an inspection yourself. Details of your nearest assessor or inspector can be found on the Landmark Information Group website.

Having found your local assessor or inspector, you can make arrangements for your inspection. This will generally take around an hour, and will require the inspector to be able to get to all of the rooms, including the loft where applicable. They will also need access to the boiler.

The inspector will require various pieces of information about the property in order to complete their inspection. This will include: the date of construction; dates of any extension to the property; the type of wall insulation, if any; the type of heating installed; the date of installation of any boilers; and whether or not the property is double glazed.

Having completed their inspection, the assessor will then compare the information gathered to the standards set out in a procedure called RDSAPv3. This is an updated version of the procedures that have been used for energy assessments since the 1980s. They will then provide you with your EPC, showing your property's position on the sliding scale along with recommendations on how to improve its rating.

Improving your energy performance rating

You are not obliged to act on the recommendations given with the report, however, many landlords choose to. The dual pressures of reduced spending power and increased environmental concern are leading a growing number of tenants to look for properties with low running costs. As such, carrying out some of the recommendations given by the inspector may help to make your property more attractive to potential tenants.

The recommendations are split into two categories: high cost and low cost. Low cost recommendations might include steps like insulating or re-insulating your boiler, or installing draft exclusion strips. High cost recommendations, on the other hand, might include more major refurbishments or additions like a new heating system.

However, it is important to note that some financial assistance is available to landlords who wish to institute some of the recommendations made on their Energy Performance Certificate. The Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA) allows taxpaying private landlords to offset up to £1,500 per property on spending for cavity, floor, loft, hot water system or solid wall insulation, or draft proofing. Alternatively, if your tenants claim benefits they may be entitled to a Warm Front payment of up to £2,700 to assist with their energy bills. Warm Front applications must be made by the tenant, rather than the landlord.

Energy Performance Certificates are frequently overlooked by landlords and tenants alike. However, it is likely that their importance will increase in the near future, as tenants become more aware of the existence. The legal responsibility on the part of the landlord to provide an EPC should not be ignored. Furthermore, an institution of some or all of the recommendations made by the assessor may well save both you and your tenants money in the medium to long term. As such, landlords should be giving Energy Performance Certificates the attention they require.

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