The law governing Energy Performance Certificates ("EPCs") is set to change. New regulations are expected to come into force on 6th April 2012.

An EPC is a certificate containing information about the energy efficiency of a building, attached to which are recommendations on how to improve that building’s energy efficiency and reduce its carbon dioxide emissions.

What are the key changes?

1) Commissioning an EPC

The onus will remain on the ‘relevant person’, in other words the seller or landlord, to commission an EPC before marketing a property but this duty will be extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings.

Currently, where an EPC has been commissioned but is not yet available, the relevant person has 28 days to obtain an EPC using ‘reasonable efforts’. From April this 28 day period will be reduced to seven days. However, if after seven days the EPC has not been secured the relevant person will have a further 21 days in which to secure it, after which penalty charges may be imposed.

At present it is not unusual for EPCs to be commissioned and produced just before completion of a transaction. Going forward these changes will mean that the relevant person will not be able to delay production of an EPC.

2) Powers of Trading Standards Officers ("TSOs"):

TSOs will have new powers enabling them to force not just sellers and landlords, but persons acting on their behalf, to produce copies of EPCs for inspection. For example, TSOs will have the authority to require estate agents to produce evidence showing that an EPC has been commissioned where they are marketing a building without one. Estate agents will have to make sure therefore that either an EPC exists or has been commissioned before they start to market a property.

3) Written Particulars:

Currently, for residential sales only, the relevant person or his agent has a duty to attach the EPC to written particulars or include the asset rating on those particulars. From 6 April 2012 EPCs will need to be attached to the particulars of all commercial and residential properties for sale or rent. The option to include the asset rating will no longer apply, but sellers and landlords will be able to omit the address of a building from the copy of the EPC where the address does not appear on the written particulars.

4) Air-conditioning inspection:

EPCs have to be lodged in a central government register. Currently, it is possible to lodge an air-conditioning inspection report on the register but it is not obligatory. From 6 April 2012 an air-conditioning inspection report (if required) must be lodged on the central EPC register.
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