So, what is an EPC? Why do you need one and how do you go about getting assessed for one? Here, we answer these questions and more to make sure you know all there is to know about the EPC.
What is an EPC?
An EPC is an overview of the energy efficiency of your property. It uses colour-coded ratings from A to G, with A coloured in green as most energy efficient, right down to G, which is red and the least efficient. This provides an at-a-glance summary of how the property is currently performing versus its potential output levels.
The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards
While the rating system runs from A to G, this all changed for landlords renting out private properties in 2018 when the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) were introduced. MEES cuts off the lowest rating a property for rent can be at E. Any properties coming in at F or G aren’t allowed to be rented out.
So, if your property or the property you’re letting as an agent is currently an F or G rating, you or the landlord you are representing will need to make improvements in order to raise the rating to E. The most landlords are required to spend on these improvements is £3,500. If it’s going to cost more than this, the landlord can apply for an exemption.
MEES in Scotland
Interestingly, the Scottish Government has laid out proposals to extend this further by suggesting that all rented properties should be band C by 2030. However, landlords in Scotland do not have to meet the A to E rating-only requirements until tenancies change on 1 April 2020, and all rental properties must have a minimum E rating by 31 March 2022.
What is the EPC for?
The EPC is designed to give a rough estimate of how much heat and lighting bills will cost. It also covers how much CO₂ is emitted by the property.
The closer to the ‘A’ rating the property is, the less your tenants will have to pay for their energy bills. So, perhaps most importantly for the people you rent to, the inclusion of the ‘current’ and ‘potential’ indicators on the EPC means that your tenants can work out what steps they need to take in order to improve the rating, so it reaches the ‘potential’ level. This, in turn, will help to reduce their bills.
Why do I need an EPC?
There are a few reasons why you need an EPC for your rental property. These are:
- It is a legal requirement
Landlords in England and Wales have had to legally provide a valid EPC to all prospective tenants since 1 October 2008, and since 2009 in Scotland.
- It can be useful
Knowing how energy efficient your property is can be useful in a couple of ways:
Firstly, you can see where there is room for improvement and can use this to update the property. Secondly, it gives you the opportunity to potentially attract more interest from prospective tenants, especially if you have a good rating. This is because they are likely to see the financial benefits of moving into a property with a good energy rating.
- It can help the environment
We are all trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle. You can use the EPC to gauge how much energy is being consumed in your property and where there is room for improvement.
- You may not be able to evict your tenant if you don't have an EPC
You’ll need to have this in place before your tenants move in, and ensure you give a copy to your tenants before they move into the property, otherwise this could invalidate a Section 21 notice should you wish to evict your tenants in the future. Since 2008 (2009 in Scotland) it’s been a legal requirement for landlords to have one of these to show to potential tenants.
Do I need more than one EPC?
The type of property you are renting will influence how many EPCs you will need. For example, if you are renting out an individual house or flat, you’ll need one EPC for the property. However, if you are renting out a series of self-contained flats, you will need an EPC for each flat.
Shared houses require one EPC, while any bedsits or room lets with individual tenancies for each room do not need one.
It’s worth working out where your property falls within the requirements in order to assess whether your property is exempt or not.
How long is the EPC valid for?
EPCs are valid for 10 years from the date listed on the ‘date of certificate’ section, which you’ll find in the top left-hand corner of the EPC. Therefore, if it’s possible to boost the energy efficiency of the property before you get assessed, that would be the best option.
How do I check that my EPC is valid?
If you don’t have a copy of the current EPC or you need to check it, you can view it online on the EPC Registers website. This is where current EPCs are stored. Select ‘Report Retrieval’ and you will be given some instructions that take you to the current EPC for your property.
Is an EPC expensive?
The cost of an EPC varies and there is no fixed fee. The amount you pay for it will depend on things like how many bedrooms the property has and what type of property it is. You might find that the price depends on the area the property is based in, too.
You might find that prices in your area start from £30, however if you are renting out a large detached house in a big city like London, you’ll possibly pay more than if you’re letting a flat in a smaller location, like Huddersfield.
How does the assessment process work?
To get an EPC, you will need to find a registered domestic energy assessor on the EPC Register. This assessor will be able to carry out the review of your rental property. You can also check their credentials on the EPC register site to ensure they have the correct qualifications to carry out the assessment. Alternatively, you can speak to your Managing Agent who should be able to organise this essential assessment for you.
Once you have completed the request for an assessor, they will visit the property and carry out a standard assessment procedure (SAP), which will result in the EPC rating between A to G being given.
The EPC: a breakdown
So, what does the assessor cover during their visit? Here’s a rundown of what happens in order for your property to get certified:
Things that are examined
This assessment looks at things that directly affect the efficiency of the property, such as the insulation and the heating system. This isn’t a survey, so it’s not an assessment of the condition of the property as a whole.
What does the assessment cover?
The assessment includes several key points that are designed to help you make decisions around energy efficiency in the property. These include:
- An estimation of the energy that is potentially used – this is created by assessors using specialist government-backed software to look at previous energy usage and existing systems, such as the boiler and the level of glazing on the windows.
- The cost of fuel – this is an idea of how much it costs to heat and add power to the property in its current state.
- A list of potential savings that can be made if the steps towards enhanced energy efficiency are made.
- A report on CO₂ emissions.
It also lists information about the assessor and contact details if you have any questions or complaints about the EPC summary.
Do I have to implement the suggestions made?
You don’t have to act on the suggestions made in the EPC. However, if you do introduce some upgrades to your lighting, water and heating systems, you could find that the energy efficiency of the property significantly improves.
The EPC will also include an estimated rating for your next EPC assessment, should you implement the measures suggested – and all of this can have a positive impact on fuel bills.
If you think your property needs a new EPC or you’re about to go through the EPC assessment process, it’s worth going into it with an open mind. As a landlord, you’ll find that being open to the suggestions given can help to make savings in the long run.