One of Britain’s most senior letting agents says landlords should take the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the Energy Performance Certificate as a spur to get their properties properly reassessed.
Intended to last for a decade and required before homes could be sold or let, EPCs have taken on more significance since they became a guiding factor in whether or not a home could be let. Originally part of the ill-fated Home Information Pack, the EPC survived when the HIP requirement was abandoned in 2010.
The more recent Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards, or MEES, mean that from April 2018 it will be difficult - although not impossible - to let a property with an Energy Efficiency Standard on its EPC below Band E. Exemptions can be registered but are subject to re-application every five years, with no certainty that exemptions will continue.
“With that in mind, it could be beneficial to review the EPC for your property even if you are not yet required to replace the original purchased 10 years ago,” believes Lisa Simon, head of residential lettings for Carter Jonas.
“Some landlords still rely on the EPC existing from when they purchased the property, and therefore provided by the vendor rather than themselves” she says.
“Particularly where a property is Band F or G, but also for those with a low score in Band E, having a new EPC assessment could make all the difference between 10 years of worry-free letting and the stress of not knowing whether or not an exemption granted in time for April 2018, will be renewable in 2023.”
Simon says that an energy assessor who provides the EPC can override the defaults in the program used to generate the certificate if there’s visual or written evidence that standards are higher than the software assumes.
“Lenders may want confirmation of the property’s energy efficiency standards going forward, especially where the current banding could make it borderline in the future and therefore bring a possible diminution in its asset value as a lettings property. So taking care over what was once regarded as a merely administrative necessity could pay dividends” insists Simon.
Certain classes of building are exempt from the need for an EPC. As far as residential landlords are concerned, the principal category concerns those that are officially listed as of historic interest.
From April this year, tenants also have the right to ask their landlords to approve energy efficiency measures. Originally this would have been under the Green Deal, a scheme that already had drawbacks before its funding was withdrawn because of low take-up.
Improvements were supposed to funded through the energy bills applicable to the property provided the benefits of the improvement outweighed the cost of making them.
“It’s much better to make these improvements yourself as an investment in your let property rather than use any scheme involving the tenant paying which may ultimately restrict which energy company tenants can use in the future” adds Simon.
“While this may seem insignificant, consumers are growing more energy aware and may resent having their opportunities to switch curtailed.”
She says that where tenants ask to carry out an energy survey, landlords should allow it to go ahead but then consider whether or not it’s to their advantage to implement the improvements, so retaining control.
“It may also be that the work can be completed at lower cost than the tenant’s chosen contractor offers” she concludes.