Introduced on 6th April 2012, The Localism Act 2011 makes changes to the requirements relating to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) that will directly affect landlords and letting agents.
Prior to 6th April, there were different requirements around selling and letting for when an EPC needed to be commissioned.
Where a property was being let and no EPC existed, there was a requirement to ensure it had been commissioned before the property was marketed and then made available to prospective tenants “before entering into a contract”.
For properties being sold, until May 2010, all properties that were put onto the market required a Home Information Pack (HIP), which included an EPC. When the present Government came into power, HIPs were suspended and the original regulations were amended to include new rules around the provision of an EPC on the sale of a property.
The new regulations bring lettings and sales in line and an EPC will now need to be commissioned before a property is marketed and made available to prospective tenants or buyers, free of charge, “at the earliest opportunity”. The previous wording of “before entering into a contract” has been removed as it gave an erroneous impression that the provision of the EPC could be delayed until shortly before the parties into a contract for sale or rent. It is hoped that the new wording will lead to EPCs being provided far earlier.
Agents must now be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned prior to marketing the property and then obtained within seven days. Despite EPCs taking relatively little time to produce nowadays, it is recognised that on rare occasions it may take more than seven days to obtain one – perhaps where this is a complex commercial/residential building involved. Therefore, a new provision is inserted allowing a further 21 days, but only if the relevant person (landlord, vendor or agent) has used all reasonable efforts to obtain the EPC within the seven days.
There will be no further defence to not having obtained it after the full 28 days and the penalty for non-compliance remains at £200 for dwellings or 12.5% of the rateable value with a minimum £500 and maximum £5,000 for commercial.