EPC Regulation Change - 6 April 2012Monday 30th , April 2012




What is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)?

The EPC must have been prepared by an accredited energy assessor. Domestic EPCs give buildings both an energy performance and an environmental impact rating on a scale of A-G. EPC ratings are similar to consumer-friendly fridge ratings and are based on factors such as age, property layout, construction, heating, lighting and insulation.

The ratings for both domestic and non-domestic EPCs are standard so the energy efficiency of one building can easily be compared with another building of a similar type.

Both domestic and non-domestic EPCs also include a recommendation report advising property owners or occupants on cost effective ways to improve its energy efficiency. The certificate will also show the rating that could be achieved if all the cost effective recommendations were implemented.

Clarifying when an EPC is required?

The current rules provide that the EPC must be made available at the earliest opportunity and in any event before entering into a contract to sell or rent the building or, if earlier, when information in writing is first given to such a person who requests information about the building, or when the building is first viewed by such a person.

The amendment will delete the words ‘before entering into a contract to sell or rent the building’ from Regulation 5(2)(b). The deletion of this phrase is intended to counteract the mistaken belief that it is legitimate to delay providing an EPC until the end of the transaction.

The amendment will provide that the EPC must be provided at the earliest opportunity and no later than whichever of the following actions first takes place:

- When the relevant person provides information in writing about the building to a person who has requested it;

- When a pre-arranged viewing of the building takes place.

Why is the government making this change?

The amendment is intended to ensure that landlords and agents do not delay the provision of the EPC can until shortly before the parties enter into a contract; tenants should have visibility of the report at the time the property is marketed.

Who is ultimately responsible for providing the EPC?
Ultimate responsibility for the provision of an EPC to tenants falls to the landlords (‘the relevant person’). At Martin & Co we will take care of arranging this speedily on behalf of our clients so as to not unduly delay property marketing, viewings, finding tenants and signing contracts.

I already have an EPC. Do I need to obtain a new one?
No. Your existing EPC is valid for 10 years from the date that is was produced. It must be displayed alongside written particulars (including on the internet and in printed form) at the point of marketing the property for let.

When should the EPC be made available under the new regulations?
The EPC should be made available as early as possible and in particular, when a prospective tenant requests information in writing or views the property in question. In addition, the landlord must ensure that an EPC has been given to the person who ultimately becomes the buyer or tenant.

Commissioning an EPC before marketing

There appears to be some scope for misunderstanding (or even contradiction) within the guidance set forth by the government on marketing a property, when all efforts to obtain an EPC have been made. For example:

- Regulation 5A(4) has been amended to provide that the relevant person and the person acting on their behalf must use all reasonable efforts to ensure that the EPC is obtained within 7 days of the start of marketing (i.e. the period has been reduced from 28 days).

- In addition, the new Regulation 5A(4A) provides that the EPC must be obtained within the period of 21 days following the expiry of the 7 day period mentioned in 5(A)(4).

The effect of this is to provide an absolute duty to obtain an EPC within 28 days of the property going on the market. If the property remains on the market after the expiry of the 28 days, Trading Standards Officers may serve a penalty notice even if there is a legitimate reason for the delay.

Do the regulations apply to all property adverts?
No. Only the more detailed descriptions (referred to as written particulars) produced for potential buyers or tenants as defined by the Regulations. In essence this is where an agent provides written particulars to a person (i.e. a specific individual) who may be interested in buying or renting the building.

We expect to see further clarification on the finer details from the Department for Communities and Local Government shortly.


Sources: THE ENERGY PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS (CERTIFICATES AND INSPECTIONS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2007; Amended Regulations (Statutory Instruments 2011/2452 and 2012/809); The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

Please note: The information provided here is believed to be accurate at the time of writing and is for guidance purposes only (at a time when there appears to be some confusion over the finer details of the changes taking place). We will provide further clarity and may amend this information as more guidance is made available by the government.

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