Official Q&A released for the EPC which causes more Q&A

Posted: 26/03/2012

The Government have produced the long awaited Q&A guide for the Energy Performance Certificate with only two weeks left to go until the regulations take effect. Unfortunately, the guidance has caused more questions and the CLG (Department for Communities and Local Government) have growing demands to clear these up before April 6th.

The guidance has given estate agents a week from the beginning of marketing a property for the EPC to be acquired on the property, followed by an extra 21 days if it not been possible to obtain one. However, the Q&A conflicts with itself by stating that an EPC has to be accessible to any potential purchaser or tenants if they request the information or if they go to view the property. The guidance says that an EPC should not be offered later than any of these two events but if the CLG do not amend this rule, this will mean that agents potentially can’t carry out viewings until an EPC is obtained. This requirement reoccurred on both page three and four of the guidance. If the property does not have an EPC and continues to be advertised over the 28 day period, officers from Trading Standards can serve a £200 penalty, ‘even if there is a legitimate reason for the delay.’

The guidance describes the meaning of ‘written particulars’ and the ‘giving’ of a written particular, ‘The giving of written particulars includes making them available electronically, such as in an email or as information on a website.’ This means that agents will have to recover an EPC from the Register and attach it to any online written particulars. Although the guidance stated than an EPC did not have to be joined to a newspaper advert or window cards yet this will still need further clarification from the CLG as they only specify this rule for properties up for rent, not for sale. The guidance identifies the word ‘attached’ meaning, ‘the first page of the EPC can be incorporated into the property details, or attached.’

Perhaps one of the biggest issues that was raised about the residential EPC’s was the fact that addresses could not be redacted and the CLG have confirmed that this will still be the case, only redactions on commercial EPC’s are allowed. Some of the concerns about this included worry that squatters could use an EPC to find empty properties and celebrity watchers could also use an EPC to find out which celebrity is selling their house. Other problems could include estate agents touting from other agents although this would be breaking the Property Ombudsman code. The CLG claim that the address is required to prevent counterfeit EPC’s and to make sure people could identify that the EPC is for the correct property.

Have you read the Q&A for the EPC regulations? Did you find any other contradictions in the guidance or have you any concerns that the Government have not answered?

Amanda McGovern, Pali Ltd

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(1) Comments government, EPC, estate agents, april 6th

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