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New guidance on EPCs

New guidance on EPCs

Communities and Local Government has issued new guidance on Energy Performance Certificates for rental properties.
Already proving controversial with the armies of Domestic Energy Assessors who had hoped for more work to come their way, the guidance says that landlords will be able to apply for accreditation to produce their own EPCs, and that EPCs will not be required for Houses in Multiple Occupation.

The guidance confirms that October 1 is the start date when EPCs must be provided on all rental properties whenever there is a change of tenant.
Where the tenant is in place before October 1 and remains in residence, no EPC will be needed. If the rental agreement is renewed, again no EPC will be required.
The requirement only kicks in when there is a new tenant. Landlords are then legally required to produce an EPC to show free of charge to all prospective tenants. The tenant who moves in must be given a copy of the EPC before the rental agreement is signed.

Where the landlord employs an agent, the agent can make all the arrangements for the EPC, but the legal responsibility for any breaches lies with the landlord.
An EPC for a rental property can last for up to ten years. It does not, for example, need renewing if improvement work such as insulation is carried out. However, if the rental property is sold, then the EPC only has a shelf life of one year and will need to be renewed.
This is despite the EU ruling that EPCs can last for ten years. Last year, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors legally challenged the UK Government's 'gold plating' of the ten-year rule, although this challenge is now in abeyance.

Some agents might also find some of the guidance about HMOs confusing.
The guidance says that EPCs are required on 'whole' or 'parts' of buildings, where the 'parts' are self-contained and do not share facilities such as kitchens. 'Parts' which need EPCs may, however, have their entrances in common parts of buildings.

But in one example, CLG says that a hall of residence with student bedsits would not require EPCs on each bedsit, but would require an EPC for the whole building if it were to be sold, rented or constructed. Any self-contained unit, such as a warden's flat, within the HMO would also require its own EPC.
Other than HMOs, the only other exemption is for emergency accommodation provided for tenants needing to relocate urgently. Even so, EPCs must be provided as soon as possible.
Finally, landlords who do not produce an EPC when asked, either by a tenant or an enforcing officer, will face fines of £200. The enforcing authority will be the local Trading
Standards department.

Written by Rosalind Renshaw