EPC are the initials for Energy Performance Certificate, something which is required to be held by the owner of any residential or commercial building in Britain that is being offered for sale or to rent – as explained by the official, government sponsored Energy Saving Trust.
What does the EPC show?
The certificate confirms the energy efficiency of a property by giving it a rating between A and G – where A means very efficient and G means inefficient. The EPC is colour coded and in appearance resembles the sticker attached to any electrical appliances (such as fridges and freezers) you may have bought recently.
Unlike appliances however, the energy rating for your property may be enhanced by making some or all of the improvements identified in the EPC – measures such as better insulation or replacing your light bulbs with energy-saving ones.
When letting your property, there may be some advantage, therefore, in letting tenants know the efforts you have made to reduce their energy costs since this might make finding tenants more easily and encouraging them to stay for longer. In any event, you need to make a copy of the EPC available to your tenants if asked. And there is a fixed penalty for failing to do so.
An EPC is valid for ten years – although you may want to update it, of course, to reflect any energy-saving improvements you have made during that time.
If you a letting a property in multi-occupancy (with shared facilities among a number of tenants or are running a hostel), no EPC is required. In all other cases, a certificate is required for each flat or house you might be letting.
A list of questions and answers about the responsibilities of landlords with respect to EPCs is published by the Residential Landlords Association.
Slightly different rules and regulations may apply if your let property is in Northern Ireland or Scotland.
How do I get one?
Clearly, the production of an EPC requires some technical expertise and qualification. The inspection and certification needs to be made by an accredited person, known as a domestic energy assessor, who is typically a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
The Landmark Information Group, which acts on behalf of the government, provides a handy search facility for finding a qualified energy assessor in your area. It also provides a link to the national register of all properly conducted EPCs in the country, so that you may retrieve a copy of the certificate with which you were previously issued.
The Department for Communities and Local Government also provides free online advice about energy savings you might make, how much money you stand to save, and the reduction in the property’s carbon footprint. Simply key in the reference number of your existing EPC and the Department’s website does the rest.
EPCs for landlords
An EPC may not be a required condition of your landlord insurance cover, but it might nevertheless benefit your ability to let the property.
Demonstrating the energy efficiency of any property you are letting, and perhaps more importantly showing the improvements you have made to help cut the consumption – and cost – of energy is something that may not only attract new tenants in the first place but also encourage their responsible use of your property over a longer period of time.