The ins and outs of EPC certificates

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) lists the amount of energy a property is using, as well as providing landlords with useful information on how they can make their asset more energy efficient.

Since the EPC was introduced 2008, by law, landlords intending to rent out or sell a property are required to hold a valid document. The EPC must be
processed and completed before the house has been place on the market or any contact agreed.

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What an EPC contains

A five-page EPC will include the property's current energy rating - accompanied by its running cost - with an improved (potential) rating also listed. Properties can be given grades of 'A' through to 'G', with A-grade the most efficient.

Its potential grading is the initial figure upgraded by standard energy saving measures. Commonly-suggested improvements include loft insulation and draught proofing. By going on the recommendations listed, not only can landlords reduce the property's carbon emissions, but they can also cut their energy bills in the process.

Further down, the document will provide details of the assessor that carried out the energy inspection and, should they have any further queries, a few basic contact details.

What an EPC looks like

Information is explained within a five-page, full-colour document. The current and potential A - G rating will be usually be highlighted through a graph, with the recommendations clearly stated directly beneath.

Along with an estimate for how much the measures are likely to cost, the document will also state whether they're available under the Green Deal. The government backed scheme allows improvements to be carried out at no extra expense. The cost is instead covered by the savings made.

Gradings for the house's individual features - its walls, roof, floor and windows, for example - will be listed through a table. In general, detailed information accompanies each grading, so the landlord fully understands the document.

Do I need an EPC certificate?

Although an EPC in theory acts to inform both the landlord and potential tenant, every property, built for sale or rent, in England and Wales must hold a certificate. The property can be detached, semi-detached or part of a block of flats. Regardless, each building which has heating, some form of air conditioning or ventilation will need an EPC.

An EPC is valid for 10 years, but should a landlord make changes to their property which could potentially affect their asset's energy rating, they will need to apply for a new certificate. However, should change come in limited quantity, landlords can present the exact same EPC they were given after initially buying the property.

Obtaining an EPC certificate

Any landlord wishing to obtain an EPC must contact an accredited Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA) to carry out the inspection. The DEA scheme ensures that every assessor is qualified to conduct an energy assessment, can adhere to codes of conduct while carrying out their inspection and is fully insured to do so. Government-approved equipment must also be used to provide an accurate grading.

Letting agencies and energy providers are amongst those who hire domestic assessors to carry out inspections, which usually take around a day to complete. The rate charged for an EPC will vary depending on the size and location of the property, but some companies will offer their services for a fixed fee. The responsibility to both obtain and finance the certificate is placed solely on the property owner.

Should they be denied energy information, tenants are advised to contact their local trading standards office. It's certainly in their best interests to do so, as an EPC can provide new buyers or tenants with a brief summary of much their utilities will cost.

Not only could potential tenants be put off a property that doesn't hold an energy rating, landlords failing to hold a valid EPC also risk receiving a fine of £200.