From 6th April 2012, landlords and letting agents will be required to produce a new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) for all rental properties in England and Wales to bring the rules for selling and letting a property into line. The Landlord Syndicate, a network of companies providing a complete and free support centre for landlords, comments on what landlords should consider in light of these changes.
The new rules mean that landlords and letting agents must ensure an EPC has been commissioned before they begin to market their property and Trading Standards officials will be given powers to check up whether this has been done. The front page of the EPC must also be included on any marketing particulars for the property, be that online or otherwise.
Simon Thompson, Chairman of the Landlord Syndicate says “There has been much debate as to how much notice is taken of EPCs and it will be interesting to see at what point amongst a tenant’s priority list of location, size and décor for example, the energy efficiency of a rental property will come into play. However, landlords should be mindful that this level of transparency will enable tenants to make informed decisions much earlier, before they even make an appointment to view the property, so if a property is heavily publicised as ‘not efficient’ it could be passed by.” Previously, landlords did not have to produce an EPC until just before contracts were signed.
The design of the EPC has also been improved to make it easier to understand—details about energy costs and how to improve them are clearer. Simon continues “With the cost of living an ever increasing sum, tenants may well be more mindful of the subsequent cost of utility bills in a less environmentally friendly property and it would be a shrewd decision for those landlords who are concerned, and especially those with older properties, to look at making even small changes which could improve their property.”
Failure to comply can result in possible fines of up to £200 for residential properties and £5,000 for commercial properties. The Landlord Syndicate believe the net effect of the changes will bring an overall improvement in the energy efficiency and consequently the quality of properties in the private rented sector. Simon Concludes “With laws surrounding EPCs looking set to only get tougher in the coming years with possible restrictions on letting poor performing properties, landlords will be faced with the choice of either upgrading their property or removing it from the rental market altogether, so our advice would be to start making improvements now.”