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Since October 2008 a valid EPC is required whenever most property is sold or rented out. The certificate provides 'A' to 'G' ratings for the building, with 'A' being the most energy efficient and 'G' being the least, with the average up to now being 'D'.
A small number of property types (listed buildings, places of worship, temporary buildings) are exempt from EPC requirements.
We can supply an EPC for a residential property in England or Wales for £49 plus VAT. Commercial properties and properties in Scotland require a bespoke quote. Please contact us for one.
An EPC gives information about a property's energy efficiency. You must give a copy to prospective purchasers or tenants when they view a property, when they ask for any written information about a property and before any sale or rental contract is signed. It remains valid for ten years and can be used for all new transactions in that period, although it would be prudent to get a new test carried out if major works are undertaken on the property..
EPCs are required for self-contained properties only. They are not necessary when a tenant rents a room and shares facilities.
The EPC provides an energy performance rating from 'A' (highly efficient) to 'G' (least efficient). Because ratings are standard, tenants can easily compare the energy efficiency of one property to another. Ratings are influenced by type of property, its age, layout, construction, heating, lighting and insulation. The typical rating for a property is D or E.
Ratings enable prospective tenants to assess the estimated costs of heating the property and the amount of carbon dioxide released as a consequence.
Estimated running costs are based on assumptions about a property (ie the number of occupants and how long it is heated during the day). However, average fuel prices from the date the EPC was produced are used, which could be up to ten years old. Actual running costs will vary depending on current fuel costs and tenant use.
The certificate also includes recommended measures that could improve a property's energy performance. You do not have to implement these, but you may be eligible for financial assistance if you do. See the page in this guide on financial assistance for improving energy efficiency in a rented property.
Obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) can only be provided by an accredited domestic energy assessor or a certified home inspector.
Once your property has been given an EPC, it gets a unique number and is registered on a national database by the assessor. You can download extra copies by using the report reference number on the top right-hand side of the certificate.
If you have recently bought a property, an EPC should have been included in its Home Information Pack.
What an energy inspection involves
The assessor visits your property at a mutually agreed time - if you still have tenants living at the property you should try to ensure that the time is convenient for them too. You can expect the assessment of a three-bedroom property to take about an hour (larger or more complex properties take longer).
The assessor will take internal and external measurements. They collect details about the construction of the property and the type of heating and hot water used. They might photograph heaters and meters. Make sure the inspector has access to all rooms, the loft and the boiler.
What information does the assessor need?
To help the assessor determine the most accurate rating for your property, gather relevant information in advance, such as receipts for any work done to the property.
The assessor will want to know:
- when the property was built (searches or deeds provide evidence)
- whether or not your property has been extended and when
- whether it has been double glazed
- whether the walls have been insulated and if so whether this is cavity, internal or external insulation
- when boilers and hot water cylinders were installed and any manuals you may have
- where the room thermostats and heating timers are
- where the gas and electricity meters are
- the type of heating fuel you use and the types of heating you use for your rooms
After the visit, the assessor will enter the information into an authorised software programme used to produce the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and recommendation report.
Information collected about your property is protected from disclosure without your permission other than for strictly limited purposes.
Acting on Energy Performance Certificate recommendations
Recommendation reports provided with your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will detail ways to improve your property's energy performance.
There is no legal obligation on you to act on these recommendations, but doing so may help you attract prospective tenants keen to cut energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.
Recommendations are split into low-cost improvements (eg insulating the hot-water tank) and high-cost improvements (eg cavity wall insulation). Each improvement will show the typical cost savings per year as well as what the performance rating could be after making the improvement.
You may find the report also includes more advanced (and more costly) measures, such as installing solar energy panels, which you will need to apply if your property is to achieve the highest energy efficiency standards.
Financial assistance for improving energy efficiency in a rented property
The government provides some financial assistance to landlords and tenants to help improve the energy efficiency of their rented properties.
Landlords Energy Saving Allowance (LESA)
Private landlords who pay income tax can offset up to £1,500 of spending on some energy efficiency measures (per dwelling, not per building). The qualifying measures are loft, cavity, floor or solid wall insulation, draught proofing and hot water system insulation.
To find out more, contact your local authority or HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) enquiry centre. You can also find out about tax relief on property improvements on the HMRC website.
If you have tenants in England claiming certain benefits, they may qualify for Warm Front, a government scheme that helps people struggling to pay fuel bills. Grants of £2,700 are available (Â£4,000 if the dwelling has oil-fired central heating), but the tenant must make the application. The landlord does not need to be eligible.
Warm Front is not available to housing association or local authority tenants.
Energy Performance Certificates for similar rented properties
If you own a number of similar properties for rent, a domestic energy assessor might be able to produce Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for them all by assessing a sample.
There are two main methods for assessing multiple properties:
- Common value - producing an EPC for one property using data from a similar property, amended to account for the differences between them.
- Sampling and multiple certification - producing EPCs for a number of properties despite assessing just a sample. It is valid where it can be demonstrated that the properties are sufficiently similar.