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CooperBurnett Solicitors Partner Jonathan Rowe discusses Energy Performance Certificates

By Jonathan Rowe, Partner

Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are certificates, produced by specialist energy assessors, which show information about the energy efficiency of a property. Buildings are thought to account for approximately 40% of the UK’s total carbon dioxide emissions, so making them more energy efficient is a key part of delivering a zero-carbon economy.

When EPCs were first introduced, many were sceptical, but they are becoming more important as the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions becomes more urgent. In addition, the Government has committed to improve energy performance standards for domestic and non-domestic properties.

EPCs contain an ‘asset rating’ to show the energy efficiency of a property on a sliding scale which is banded from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). They also contain a recommendation report, showing improvements that can be made to the property to improve its energy efficiency.

EPCs are needed when a property is built, sold or rented and, provided no significant alterations have been made to a property that affect its energy efficiency, they have a lifespan of ten years.

Whilst the rules for domestic and non-domestic properties are not identical, since 2018 both must have a minimum EPC rating of E. Certain exemptions can apply, most commonly for listed buildings, where to carry out the works required to improve the property’s energy efficiency would be a breach of the listing rules for that property.

Certain properties are exempt including religious, non-residential agricultural properties and temporary properties or properties which do not have a roof or walls or which do not use energy to condition the indoor climate.

EPCs are registered on the GOV.UK website and, whilst enforcement of the regulations falls to trading standard officers, the rules that apply to the sale or a letting of a property are more relevant in ensuring compliance. As things stand, landlords are currently on notice that they must bring their properties up to Band C by 2025 for new leases and by 2028 for existing leases. Also, mortgage lenders will be required to have an average band C rating for their portfolios by 2030.

This could mean people with inefficient homes may have to pay higher mortgage rates and find it harder to re-mortgage. Savills has put the bill of bringing every property in the UK up to standard at £330 billion and it is unclear if the Government will offer grants and exemptions.

The Government has closed its consultation for improving energy efficiency in buildings and it remains to be seen whether they take the opportunity to update EPCs, rather than simply raising the minimum EPC ratings.

For example, a well-insulated property which uses electricity for heating and hot water currently is presently rated as less energy efficient than one that uses gas and this penalises those who install heat pumps which run on electricity. Hopefully any changes will also be made in conjunction with other policy initiatives, such as grants to cover the cost of upgrading boilers or installing heat source pumps.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Rowe on email: jbr@cooperburnett.com or tel: 01892 515022.

This blog is not intended as legal advice that can be relied upon and CooperBurnett LLP does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of its contents.

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June 7, 2022

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