Tougher EPC rules come into force on 6th April

14 Feb 2012

The legal rules governing Energy Performance Certificates ("EPCs”) are set to change on 6 April this year.

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) provide information on the energy-efficiency of a building and makes recommendations on how to improve the building’s energy use and carbon dioxide emissions.

What are the main changes?

1. What buildings must have an EPC

The requirement to 'commission' an EPC before the building is 'put on the market' will apply to all buildings including non-residential buildings, whether they are being sold or rented out. Prior to 6 April, this only applies to the sale of residential property.

2. When the EPC must be commissioned

Currently, an EPC must have been commissioned before the marketing of a property can take place, and then ‘reasonable efforts’ to obtain it within 28 days of commissioning. From 6th April this 28 day period will be reduced to 7 days. However, if after this initial 7 days the EPC has not been secured, a further 21 days will be given.

3. Powers of Trading Standards

It will still remain the responsibility of the Owner or Landlord to commission the EPC, but the powers of Trading Standards will be increased so that their officers will have new powers enabling them to force not just sellers and landlords, but persons acting on their behalf (e.g Estate Agents and Letting Agents), to produce proof of commission, or as appropriate, an actual copy of the EPC, for inspection. Once asked, the Agent/Representative will have 7 days to provide that evidence.  If the Agent/Representative cannot provide that evidence then a Penalty Notice could be issued to the Agent/Representative.  Penalty Notices can still be issued to the Owner or Landlord.

4. Written Particulars

Currently, for only residential sales, there is a duty to attach the EPC to Estate Agent written particulars or at least include the asset rating on those particulars. From 6 April the actual front page of the EPC will need to be attached to the particulars, and this duty will be extended to apply to all commercial and residential properties for sale or rent. The option to include the asset rating will no longer apply, but sellers and landlords will be able to omit the address of a building from the copy of the EPC where the address does not appear on the written particulars.

5. Provision of the EPC

Come 6th April, a full copy of the EPC must be provided to prospective buyers or tenants 'at the earliest opportunity' but, in any event, before they receive literature about, or view, the property. The practice of retaining the EPC until shortly before exchanging contracts is therefore unlawful under the new rules.

6. Penalty Notice

Agents and others who market property must become aware that they may become liable for a Penalty Notice if marketing a property without an EPC . A Penalty Notice will be for a sum equal to 12.5% of the property rateable value subject a minimum fine of £500 and a  maximum  fine of £5,000.