An EPC – an Energy Performance Certificate – is a document required by the landlord or owner of any residential or commercial property under construction or intended for sale or for rent.
Although EPCs are regulated and administered separately in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, you can face stiff fines if you do not have an EPC when one is needed.
If you are a landlord, in recent years EPCs have become more than ever critical measures of energy efficiency standards that must be maintained by any property you intend to let – and which must not be let until that standard is achieved.
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 those stickers you see attached to any electrical appliance (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 in letting tenants know the efforts you have made to reduce their energy costs: this might make finding tenants easier and encourage them to stay for longer. In any event, you need to make a copy of the EPC available to your tenants. 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 facilities shared by several tenant households) 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.
EPCs for landlords
A raft of new legislation and regulations have thrown EPCs into steadily greater importance as far as landlords of private rented property are concerned.
Guidance published on the 22nd of April by the online letting agency Letting a Property, reviewed the history of EPCs, with particular reference to their impact on landlords.
While private rented properties have all required an EPC since 2008, the stricter Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which came into force on the 1st of April 2018 required all new tenancies to have an EPC of at least an E rating. That requirement was extended to all tenancies – including existing ones – with effect from the 1st of April 2020. If you let a property without the minimum required EPC, you are breaking the law.
At the end of that same year, following further consultations by the government, the latter announced its intention to strengthen MEES requirements still further with the proposal that, in the future, all new tenancies must be for let properties that achieve an EPC rating of C or above by 2025. That standard would then be extended to all existing tenancies by the year 2028.
How do I get one?
Clearly, the production of an EPC requires some technical expertise and qualification. The inspection and certification must 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).
If your property is in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you can use the government website to find a qualified energy assessor in your area to arrange an inspection and the issue of a new EPC. You can also use the site’s search function to view and print any existing EPC for the property. The process is somewhat different if the property is in Scotland.
At a time of rapidly escalating energy costs, you might also want to review guidance published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change entitled “Help towards lower bills and warmer homes”. You might also consider leaving a copy of this guide to greet any new tenants moving into your let property.
Please note that this blog is based on our current understanding of legislation and may be liable to change.