The Ultimate Guide To EPCs
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The Ultimate Guide To EPCs

Whether you are selling a property or deciding to let out your current home, having an Energy Performance Certificate is a vital part to ensuring you are fully compliant. It is a legal document and every property is required to have one before selling or letting.

There are a few exemptions, and we will cover those too, but for now we will look at why you need it, how you get one, and the associated costs with getting an EPC.

At SOLD.CO.UK we cover all of your legal fees and promise to secure you a quick house sale. We can take the complexities out of obtaining an EPC for you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today.

What is an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate is based on a directive drafted by the EU in 2007 as part of their attempts to tackle climate change. The current requirements were made law in 2013 as part of the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations (2012) although some alterations have been made since. The purpose of an EPC is to provide total transparency around the energy efficiency of a building.

If you were to look at your freezer, oven, or other home appliance you will often see a sticker or label indicating a level of energy efficiency. An EPC is just like that. It grades the building from A-G with A indicating that the building is very efficient and G showing it is at the least efficient end of the gradings. This is especially important in the times of rising energy prices. The better the rating, the cheaper the bills should be.

The EPC will include suggestions on how the owner or tenants can maximise the efficiency of the property. These suggestions could be cost effective or indicate further improvements that may result in higher efficiency but could require an expense initially.

With every recommendation comes the potential cost saving, the performance rating after improvements and the cost associated with them. The potential rating indicated is if all improvements have been carried out.

How much does an EPC cost?

An EPC costs approximately £35 but it can be much higher. The factors that define the change in price can be, but are not limited to, the type of property, the number of bedrooms, and the area you live in. However, if you are a landlord, should you receive your EPC and find it is graded at E or below you will be legally required to make improvements. These improvements are capped at £3500 and if you find that after spending that amount, you still can’t improve the property to a sufficient grading, you may be able to apply for an exemption. Failure to bring the property to the required standard can lead to a £4000 fine if you aren’t eligible for an exemption.

What would you find on an EPC?

An EPC can show a wide range of information but there are some parts that are the minimum legal requirements. When viewing an EPC for a property you are looking to buy, or when obtaining one for a property you are looking to sell or let, you must ensure the following is included:

  • The asset ranking for the building
  • A reference value
  • A recommendation report, unless there is no reasonable potential for energy performance improvements
  • The relevant reference number
  • The address of the building
  • An estimate of the buildings total useful floor area
  • The date on which it was issued

When do you need an EPC?

Put simply, whenever a property is built, sold, or let. You must have it before your property is listed and its rating must be included on any advertising, whether selling or letting. The full EPC though does not have to be shown. Just the rating. A, B, C and so on. It will be valid for 10 years but in that time may need be changed if improvements are made to the property.  The house or flat could be sold multiple times but if the EPC is still valid, it will not need a new one.

Along with an EPC there are several other things you need to disclose when selling a property. It is important to make sure you let your estate agent know any relevant information so it can be passed to the new buyer.

When would you not need an EPC?

We mentioned at the top of the page how sometimes a property may not require an EPC. The type of buildings that are exempt tend not to be standard residential dwellings. For example, where the current owner can show that the building is protected because of its status. Something of great historical importance would not necessitate an EPC due to the nature of the rebuilding involved. For example, installing double glazing in a 400-year-old building of historical significance would cause it to lose much of its authenticity. Some older buildings are not protected though, and we would always advise that the local authorities are contacted to check on the status of the building should it be unknown.

Along with the older buildings, any that are erected and have a planned use time of less than 2 years would also be exempt. Likewise, any residential building that is only occupied for less than 4 months of the year would also find itself exempt. With this example, the building owner can also claim exemption if they could reasonably expect and potentially demonstrate that energy consumption is less than 25% for the whole year.

What other properties are excluded?

If the owner can show that the building is suitable for demolition, or the resulting site is suitable for redevelopment, it will not need an EPC. Eligibility will be based on the owner presenting all the relevant legal paperwork regarding redevelopment or demolition.

Some holiday homes may not need an EPC either. A certificate will be required when the lettings period exceeds 4 months in a 12-month period and the occupier(s) has/ve to foot the energy cost. Where the occupier doesn’t pay for the energy and the property falls under the terms of a furnished holiday let as defined by HMRC, an EPC is not necessary. It is advisable to see the HMRC website regarding furnished holiday lets for total clarity on where your holiday home may fit in.

Occasionally someone may rent a single room in a property-this room, will not need an EPC as the whole building, would require one rather than separate rooms.

If you are in any doubt as to whether your building may be exempt, we would always recommend seeking legal advice to keep you compliant and safe. The team at SOLD.CO.UK will ensure your sale goes through with all legal fees paid.

EPC validity

At any time, the EPC for the property MUST reflect the actual property it is being used for. Where a building has a dual purpose, perhaps a residential dwelling within an office, a separate EPC will be needed. In effect, anything classed as being designed or altered for separate use would require its own EPC. Where an inhabitant can separately control heating and ventilation and have separate access to the other occupants, an EPC for that particular purpose-built area would be needed.

EPC when selling, letting or buying a property

As touched upon earlier, an EPC is a legal requirement, unless the building is exempt. When it comes to marketing your property you will need to ensure you have a fully valid EPC.

If there is no EPC currently present for the building, the landlord or property seller must commission an EPC before proceeding with going to an estate agent with the intention of letting or selling their home.

At SOLD.CO.UK we must be fully satisfied an EPC exists before allowing the property to go live for sale or rent. Don’t worry though, we can guide you through every step with our complete guide to selling your home.

It is the responsibility of the selling party, landlord or estate agent to ensure an EPC is obtained within 7 days of commissioning one. An additional 21 days may be granted if all realistic and reasonable attempts to obtain an EPC have been fulfilled yet not achieved within that initial 7 days.

Once the advertisement for your property is live, whether it is through an estate agent or independently, it is required to show the EPC grading. Failure to do so could leave you facing a fine of £200 per advert!

A copy EPC may be given to a prospective buyer or tenant, but a fully valid EPC must be given, at no cost to the party that take on or rent the property.

EPC requests

When viewing a property, you have the right to ask for evidence of the EPC and the property owner must endeavour to present it at the earliest opportunity. With this come certain deadlines though and the EPC must be made available no later than:

  • When a person requests information about the building, the time at which the seller or landlord first makes available any information in writing about the building, or
  • When a person makes a request to view the building.

Property transactions that are neither a sale nor let

Sometimes a property will not fall under either category or, therefore, find itself exempt from the need of an EPC.  This could include lease renewals or extensions, lease surrenders. As with the exemptions listed earlier, we would always advise you seek legal advice to see whether your building is likely to fall into any of these categories.

Can I carry out the checks myself?

No. Only a fully accredited domestic energy assessor may carry out the relevant checks that allow an EPC to be issued. If the building is new, an on construction domestic assessor must complete the check and issue the EPC. When looking for someone to carry one out, it its vital to check that they are members of a government approved accreditation scheme.

At SOLD.CO.UK we remove that concern for you as we carry out all the legal checks so before your property goes live, we will make sure everything is fully compliant and aim to sell your house quickly.

What will the assessor need?

If you are selling your property and need a new EPC you will need to provide your chosen assessor with certain information to enable them to carry out a complete inspection. Upon receiving this information, the assessor will then carry out the checks and compile the results via a government approved system. It will then generate the EPC and provide you with the recommendations. Below is the list of what you must provide your assessor with before they can carry out the assessment:

  • When the building was built
  • Whether the building has been extended and when
  • If it has been double glazed
  • Whether any walls have been insulated and what type of insulation it is
  • When boilers and hot water cylinders were installed along with their make and model
  • Locations of thermostats and heating timers
  • The location of meters for gas and electricity
  • The type of heating fuel you use and types of heating you use.

Will the assessor register my EPC?

An approved energy assessor will log the data generated from the assessment on to a national register. This is the only place EPC data can be stored. It is also only valid once the data is entered into the register and given a reference number per data set. Once logged on to the database the energy assessor must provide the selling party or landlord with the EPC. If though, a seller or landlord agrees, the assessor can just provide the reference number and the EPC can be printed. Once registered, it cannot be altered and will stay on the register for 20 years. However due to their validity being 10 years, one building may have several EPCs on record.

How is the collected data used?

Data storage and use is often a cause for concern. Regarding an EPC the government have two websites that are useful:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/making-better-use-of-energy-performance-of-buildings-data-privacy-impact-assessment

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-performance-certificates-opt-out-of-public-disclosure

Protecting the customer

As mentioned previously an EPC may only be issued by an accredited energy assessor. With scams becoming more and more common it is wise to check that you are happy with who is carrying out your assessment. To do that you can visit the register website.

Ensuring your EPC is genuine

At SOLD.CO.UK we will make sure everything is fully compliant whether you are buying or selling. However, there are some people that may not go via an online estate agent like SOLD. Therefore, it is important to make sure when making a request to view an EPC, or when someone requests to see one from you, that you are confident it is fully compliant. Any EPC can be downloaded from the register providing you have the unique reference number. Failing that a postcode search, or a street and postal town search will work, however this will bring up all properties within that search area. This second way of searching may also prove fruitless as the owner of the EPC is allowed to opt out of public disclosure.

Can I complain about an EPC?

You can register a complaint regarding an EPC and to who you complain would depend on the nature of the complaint.

Complaints about the assessor or aspects of assessment

All assessors must be fully accredited and if your complaint is with them, it is advised you contact them first. If this doesn’t result in a resolution, you can contact the accreditation body of the assessor. Details of which will be found on the EPC.

Complaints about the quality of the EPC

If you are unhappy with the EPC itself, you should contact the advisor first. Similar to the above. If you are not happy with the outcome you can reach out to the accreditation body of the assessor. Details of which will be found on the EPC.

Resolution

Due to the nature of an EPC being a legal requirement, all complaints must be investigated. If errors are found and as a result a new EPC is required. It will be produced with no cost to the complaining party. If there is no satisfactory resolution, the accreditation scheme will refer it to a third party.

If at the end of any complaint process, an EPC is found to have been produced fraudulently, or there is the belief that it was-at any stage- then we advise you contact the police.

Potential fines

As the seller of a property, you have the responsibility of providing a valid EPC. Failure to do so can result in a fine of £200. Below are the possible circumstances where a fine may arise:

  • on sale or rent the seller or landlord failed to make a valid EPC available free of charge to the prospective buyer or tenant at the earliest opportunity or to the person who ultimately becomes the buyer or tenant.
  • on marketing the seller or landlord did not commission an EPC before the building was put on the market or the person acting on their behalf (i.e. estate or letting agent) did not ensure that an EPC was commissioned for the building.
  • the seller or landlord or a person acting on their behalf did not secure an EPC using all reasonable efforts within seven days of the building being put on the market.  An EPC must be obtained 21 days after the initial seven-day period.
  • the seller or landlord or a person acting on their behalf did not include the energy performance indicator in any advertisement of the sale or rental in commercial media.

Additional fines

As mentioned in an earlier section, landlords have a duty to ensure their property is graded E or above. Failure to do so could see a £4000 fine imposed unless they have been able to be granted an exemption after spending up to £3500 on improvements.

At SOLD.CO.UK we endeavor to sell your house for free and sell it quickly giving you the best possible price- We cover all of your legal costs and can help with advice and guidance no matter what stage of the property ladder you are on.

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