On 2nd March 2011 the Department for Communities and Local Government released a publication detailing consultations on the effectiveness of EPCs in a number of areas.
The Climate Change Act 2008 commits the UK to a statutory target to reduce its carbon emissions. With the UK dedicated to reducing its emissions by 80% in 2050 any strategy that assists with this target is going to be welcome. The EPC provides vital information on the energy efficiency of buildings which allows the government to assess whether we are on the way to the target reduction.
Therefore the consultation is aimed at improving the effectiveness of the EPC with a view to making better use of the energy performance data.
The consultation while wanting to improve and enhance the use of the EPC it is also looking to extend the scope of the requirement to include:
Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMO)
At present the law does not require EPCs to be produced when rooms are rented out in a HMO property however, the recommendation is for EPCs of the whole property to be made available to prospective tenants. This will ensure that from the outset when the first room is let the Tenant will have access to a valid EPC of the whole building. As a valid EPC lasts 10 years the obligation on the Landlord is unlikely to be considered onerous.
Short Term Holiday Lets
At present EPCs are not required for short term holiday lets as people renting a holiday home for a short period of time would be unlikely to consider energy efficiency when selecting a property. However the DCLG proposes that EPCs should be required if holiday lets are rented out for a combined total of four months or more in one year. This ensures that properties rented for less than four months are still immune from the requirement.
Extension of Display Energy Certificates to a Commercial Building
A Display Energy Certificate is like an EPC except it records the actual energy consumption of that building up to a period of three years. The recorded energy consumption must then be displayed as a certificate in a similar format to an EPC. Currently they are only required for public buildings larger than 1,000m2 and are required to show how efficiently the building is operated. The Certificate is accompanied by an Advisory Report which sets out three levels of cost-effective improvements which can improve the building’s efficiency.
Given that commercial property is responsible for 18% of carbon emissions in the UK the proposal to extend DECs to commercial properties is an attractive one. Current government plans aim to reduce the floor area in public buildings to 250m2 and it is hoped that the DCLG proposals to initially pilot the scheme voluntarily to commercial buildings will be taken up.
Finally the DCLG is also looking to clarifiy when an EPC is required on the sale or letting of building. The DCLG has put forward a proposal to amend Regulation 5(2) of the 2007 Regulations making it clear that the Regulations require Landlords to make an EPC available to a prospective tenant as soon as they request either information about or to view a building, and they further seek to remove the opportunity for Landlords to defer making an EPC available until contracts are exchanged on sales. The amendment is not a complete rewording of the regulation but clarification that Landlords must make an EPC available at the earliest opportunity.
Whether you like or dislike the introduction of the EPC, buildings account for 50% of the UKs carbon emissions and a reduction is needed.