Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs)
Introduction

The European Directive on the Energy Performance of Buildings (EPBD) is a key part of strategies for tackling climate change. Nearly half of all carbon emissions in this country come from buildings. The principle underlying the Directive is to make energy efficiency transparent by the issuing of a certificate showing the energy rating, accompanied by recommendations on how to improve efficiency.

Under Article 7 of the Directive, any building which is sold, rented out or constructed must have an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This must be issued by a qualified and accredited assessor in an independent manner. Once produced an EPC is valid for ten years. The certificate is accompanied by recommendations on how to improve energy efficiency. These do not however have to be implemented. This part of the Directive has been implemented into law in England and Wales by the Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations (2007/991).

Key points

  • An EPC is required whenever a building in the social or private rented sectors is let to a new tenant
  • a building can be: the whole of a building; or part of a building where the part
  • is designed or altered to be used separately. For residential purposes, 'designed or altered to be used separately' describes a unit that is self-contained, meaning that it does not share essential facilities such as a bathroom/shower room, wc or kitchen with any other unit, and that it has its own entrance, either from outside or through common parts, that is not through another dwelling
  • landlords must provide an EPC free of charge to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity and must provide a copy of the EPC to the person who takes up the tenancy
  • the purpose of the EPC is to show prospective tenants the energy performance of the dwelling they are considering renting
  • EPCs are valid for 10 years and can be reused as many times as required within that period. It is not necessary to commission a new EPC each time there is a change of tenant. However, once a more recent EPC has been produced for a dwelling, it will always supersede an existing one. Thus, where a number of EPCs are obtained for a property within the ten year period only the most recent one is valid
  • an EPC is not required for any property that was occupied prior to 1 October 2008 and which continues to be occupied after that date by the same tenant. However, landlords may commission EPCs for these dwellings if they wish
  • the EPC shows two things - the Energy Efficiency Rating (relating to running costs) and the Environmental Impact Rating (relating to the carbon dioxide emissions) of a dwelling. Each rating is shown on an A-G rating scale similar to those used for fridges and other electrical appliances
  • the rating is accompanied by a recommendation report that shows how to improve the dwelling's energy efficiency. These two elements together form the EPC and the complete document must be provided to the new tenant. There is no statutory requirement to carry out any of the recommended energy efficiency measures stated in the recommendation report
  • EPCs must be produced by an accredited assessor.

General requirements

The landlord must commission an EPC and ensure a copy of it, including the recommendation report, is available free of charge to prospective tenants at the earliest opportunity. As a minimum, this should be when prospective tenants are first given written information about a dwelling or are arranging to view it, and before any rental contract is entered into. A copy of the EPC (rating and recommendation report) must be given free of charge to the person who ultimately becomes the tenant before any rental contract is entered into. Where the landlord has an agent, they may be given the task of ensuring that these requirements are met. However, the landlord will remain responsible for any breaches.

Communications

Landlords should bear in mind the most appropriate way of communicating with prospective tenants. Weblinks or electronic communications are acceptable, provided that prospective tenants will be able to access information in this way and consent to receive it in this form. The Landlord should maintain an auditable trail of communication.

Lease renewal

The landlord is not required to produce an EPC when an existing lease is renewed, only when the tenant changes.

Existing EPCs

If a landlord already has an EPC for a property, for example because it was recently purchased and the EPC was part of the Home Information Pack, this EPC can be used for the subsequent rental. EPCs are valid for 10 years from the date of its production for rental.

Where can I get further information?

Further details about the treatment and management of hot and cold water systems are available in the Approved Code of Practice and guidance:

Legionnaires' disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems. Approved Code of Practice and guidance L8 (Second edition)

HSE Books 2000 ISBN 0 7176 1772 6.

You can also obtain advice from your local HSE office (contact details will be in your local directory), HSE Infoline (08701 545500), and the HSE website (www.hse.gov.uk);

Information source: HSE 2015.

The Property Ombudsman
Association of Residential Letting Agents
Association of Residential Letting Agents
On the Market January 2015
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