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EPC changes: agents say timescales will be impossible

Wednesday 14th March 2012
Written by Rosalind Renshaw

Changes that estate agents will have to make to their IT systems are simply not capable of being done by the time the new EPC regime kicks in.

Only five days – including a Sunday – have been allowed between necessary information being made available and implementation.

The claims have come from agents sent information about how to retrieve EPCs from the Landmark website.

They have said, in two robust words: ‘no way’.

The highly complex ‘guidance’ issued by CLG on March 2, but due to communications problems not widely circulated until Monday this week, says that the new-look EPC will be issued on April 1.

On the same day, an ‘API’ code will be released – enabling estate agents’ IT systems to ‘talk’ to the Landmark site via an Application Programming Interface.

Without the code, agents will have to log on manually to the Landmark website each time they want to access individual EPCs. The log-on would include a CAPTCHA, whereby agents would have to ‘fill in the box with the letters they see’ – very time consuming for agents with a large number of EPCs they need to access and print off.

Nick Salmon, managing director of Harrison Murray, said: “If the code is not released until April 1, it means agents will have just five days – including a Sunday – to rewrite and presumably test their own systems.

“We will, of course, obey the law, but when I asked our IT team to look at the guidance, they said it was not possible to automate our systems within the timescale.”

Another mystery is that the guidance gives what looks to be a screengrab of the Landmark site as agents will see it.

However, closer inspection reveals a date of last October – when the EPC changes were last due to kick in – and that the text is in Latin, suggesting that as late as March 2, the Landmark designers did not have actual wording.

Other agents have told EAT that they are concerned that they will be required to pre-pay a minimum of £10 upfront to Landmark in order to get redacted EPCs – those without addresses.

One said that agents were being forced into a commercial contract with Landmark – a private firm, holding what is a public database, and which belongs to the Daily Mail – and asked what was wrong with using Tipp-Ex.

Our readers’ concerns were put to Landmark who agreed the following statement with the Department of Communities and Local Government: "DLCG requested Landmark to develop a system to enable property gents to retrieve the EPC for attachment to the written particulars without additional cost to the taxpayer.

"It was agreed that this would be developed on a cost recovery basis. As part of the EPC Retrieval Service, domestic and non-redacted EPCs are provided free of charge.

"As the redacted commercial EPCs are a value-added and optional service, there is a charge. The use of the Register Operator's service also means that the Register Operator is responsible for supplying the EPCs and ensuring that the redactions are carried out to the same standard in order to ensure consistency."

 

(37) Comments

Added by M2RVD on 2012-05-12 10:38:46

HELP PLEASE.....our epc reports are saved as a PDF, which cannot be altered. How am I supposed to upload just the 1st page to the property portals online?? Would appreciate any advice. Thanks
Added by Jaimie Rice on 2012-03-16 11:44:25

Checked out on further info with CLG, been advised the legislation is not retrospective so:
- For residential properties currently on the market with existing EPCs that are valid, they can still be marketed with just the chart displayed & not the full first page. If asked by a TSO you will be able to demonstrate from your records that the property came on the market before the 6th April and therefore the existing Regulations apply.
- If a property is not on the market or continuously marketed, but has a valid existing epc & goes back on the market after 6th April, they can still use their old EPC - providing it is valid - and agents will have to add a copy of the first page of the EPC (not just the chart).

Bonus! We don't have to alter our existing valid properties. :D
Added by Jaimie Rice on 2012-03-16 08:58:14

I specifiaclly asked 2 Qs to CLG when requesting the info sheets from them. Their answers were:

Q: How small can i produce the first page of the EPC on my property details to be compliant?
A: We have indicated that the first page copy of the EPC can be A5 size; however you will need to ensure that you comply with other legislative requirements including the Equality Act 2010.

Q: Do existing EPCs that are still within valid term have to be replaced?
A: Existing EPCs will not have to be replaced; a copy of the first page copy of the EPC can be attached to properties marketed after the 6th April 2012.

Also as far as the address is concerned: Attaching the EPC to online property details with the address removed:
Their enhanced service 'allows property agents to retrieve a copy of the first page of the commercial EPC, but with the address removed.'
So this applies to non domestic epcs only, as far as I have interpreted their information.

I would basically assume that they are saying:
- get the epc within 7 days of commencing marketing, if you can't, ensure you can prove you have commissioned it within that time & make sure it's available within the further 21 day period or stop marketing until it comes in.
- ensure that the first page of the epc is attaced to all writted particulars at a size of A5 min. and to any property website advertising just to cover your backs.

yes it's a pain, because i am having to redesign all our existing & new property brochure templates to accommodate an a5 size epc front sheet instead of the graph. But online i see it as no different to uploading the chart - you just upload the front sheet as a jpeg file instead.
I have used photoshop software to open the PDF file & save the first page as a jpeg so that it is in a format that i can use to insert it into our property details & upload it online.

I have a good local DEA that gets the epcs done within a week for me anyway - the only exception is normally when a seller is delaying wanting to pay out for it & putting the appointment off/back.

My only grumble is the additional printing & paper costs we will have to bear as a result of this, and that i am having to redesign the details templates. It has given my office staff about a weeks worth of background work to get all our property details files ready & compliant. But we will have done our old files well in time, because we are doing them a few a day already.
Added by hmmm... on 2012-03-15 19:25:13

This a huge problem for me.

There is no way i'm going to wait on a landlord to get his ass in gear before I start marketing a property - I can't afford to!

Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-15 17:51:56

I don't know about Rightmove's wording, as I haven't seen the email, but they are basically right in what they say. When you advertise a property on Rightmove, you as the agent decide how much information to add to your listing. Some agents only put up a picture, a price and a few bullet points, other put up a full set of details. It follows that Rightmove have no more responsibility for the content of their adverts than your local paper (if you still advertise in the paper!).

As the agent, you will need to decide if the amount of detail you are putting into your listings qualifies as an advert or a set of details, using the guidelines set out by the CLG as follows:

in relation to a building to be sold, any written description of the property which includes at least two of the following—

(i)a photograph of the building or any room in the building,
(ii)a floor plan of the building,
(iii)the size of the rooms in the building, or
(iv)the measured area of the building

Everybody ok with that? If your internet detail include two or more of those things, add the front page of the EPC. If you don't, you can leave it off.
Added by PbroAgent on 2012-03-15 17:37:48

Rightmove have muddied the waters further today by sending out an email which states that according to their interpretation of the regs, the information they display "takes the form of property adverts and not property particulars" and "that the new regulations do not place any additional obligations on Rightmove"

Just to cover their arses though the email goes on to state how you can upload the first page of the EPC onto Rightmove, just in case you want to.

Nice
Added by spartacus on 2012-03-15 15:33:53

Well I'm just thinking outside the box. (or inside the box because that’s where the front page will be going)

Seriously though. Print the front page of your PDF off and stick it in your details, what’s the problem?
The only thing I can suggest is better policing of the agents that still stick two fingers up at getting an EPC done at all. The answer would be to give the fine money back to the local authority that has to do the investigating in the first place. What council are going to investigate agents when the fine goes to central government?
Nobody's looking anyway, do what you like with them!
Added by john on 2012-03-15 13:21:04

Sparticus
You are a legend so clever it's untrue !!!!!
One word from you and we could stop the whole process
Then again that would be our commission epcs gone
I'm gone can not work with this level of ignorance !
Added by spartacus on 2012-03-15 11:43:24

any regs on how big it has to be printed? Im thinking of scaling down the front EPC page to the size of one of the little black dots on our QR codes.

My god i'm good.
Added by omg lol on 2012-03-15 09:43:36

Thanks EPC advice. This thing is a rather large farce anyway. Since 2007, I have had 1 person ask to see the EPC.

No the less, I think we are going to stop doing paper brochures as we dont want to increase our carbon footprint on one hand whilst trying to reduce it on the other.
Added by roy on 2012-03-15 09:32:35

Meercat
You must have a working relationship with a local domestic energy assessor who supplies you with EPCs. Sit down with them and talk it through, it should be part of the service,
they can help.

Unless you use a panel, then the service you get is down to price and you really do get what you pay for ?
Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-15 09:31:30

OK, Merecat, since you asked nicely, I'll do my best:

1. EPCs attached to detail sheets and internet pages - "the requirements for the provision of an EPC with written particulars will be extended to all buildings sold or rented out and the option to attach the asset rating will be removed. The requirement will only extend to the first page of the EPC"
- It will no longer be enough to just show the graphs, now you will need to attach the full front page to any advertising details including internet advertising.

2. Commissioning an EPC - "The duty to commission an EPC before marketing will be extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings. The current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using reasonable efforts will be reduced to 7 days" - Pretty straight forward, but if there are exceptional circumstances and you haven't been able to get your EPC within 7 days, a further 21 days can be granted.

3. Power to require the production of documents - Currently Trading Standards Officers have the power to require the relevant person to produce an EPC or documents proving an EPC has been ordered, these powers will be extended to anyone acting on the relevant persons behalf, meaning agents, solicitors, etc.

4. A loophole is being closed through which some letting agents only provided an EPC at the point of a tenant signing a contract.

That's basically the meat of it. In truth, for sales and letting agents who have been observing the spirit of the rules since the beginning, the only change will be showing the full front page of the EPC instead of just the graphs.
Added by MERECAT on 2012-03-15 08:19:20

Can someone please ewxplain in SIMPLE ENGLISH what the procedure is atther the 6th April in regard to the EPC?
Added by john on 2012-03-14 21:37:16

OMG
That is why I posted to EAT about being positive and trying to explain to agents; anyone can BITCH MOAN or WINE (just check out all the negative comments)
EAT
TRY Helping Agents with good informative article's that will help them understand what they have to do ?
YOU have DEA's giving up there time to explain and Help
OVER TO YOU EAT ??
Added by roy on 2012-03-14 21:24:36

omg
As an agent you must order EPC from a DEA
All DEA have had upskill training on the NEW domestic EPC sit down with them on a one to one and discuss it with them ?
If you are domestic nothing much will change except you will get a new EPC with green deal details. advertising on Right move zoopla etc they will take care of the details for you That leaves your website and other advertising.
Its a pity that all agent dont have to upskill to carry on tradeing then you would all Know ??
Added by omg lol on 2012-03-14 20:33:50

As an owner of an agency I have digested all the info on here over the last few weeks, including the feedback and I am still unclear what is expected by way of compliance. I cannot be alone.
Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-14 20:23:17

Once again Rip Off Rightmove, people don't seem to be reading the story properly, let alone the comments, so I'll say it again:

There is no such thing as a redacted residential EPC. Landmark is not charging you 50p, because you can't have one. It doesn't exist.

The only reason they are allowing commercial agents to redact the address information (for a fee) is to avoid a situation where confidentiality clauses are broken, where staff of a company discover there company is up for sale on Rightmove, where consumer confidence in a company is damaged by news of a sale leaking out. None of these issues affect residential sales, hence no redacted domestic EPC.

Instead, you will just have to deal with this... You can either break the law, or you can provide the full addresses of all your advertised properties to all your competitors on the internet, the choice is yours. That is what non compliance has brought us to.
Added by john on 2012-03-14 18:23:17

Rip off
Calling people names like parasite is not the way forward
I am a Dea myself just trying to make living I want to work with other Agents to help them comply with law
However YOU are the sought of self deluded idiot who gives us all a poor reputation.
The whole Of Europe has this legislation we have to reduce carbon emissions. It may cost you 50p but you were not complaining at making £30 £40 £50 out of ordering an Epc for your client !!!!!!
Added by Rip Off Rightmove on 2012-03-14 16:46:12

@ John

Stop being an apologist for CLG. The way they have handled all this is a disgrace.

Agents realise that we have lost the political battle to DEA parasites / Guardian readers / Kafka-esque bureaucrats / EU scumbags etc.

We just want to clearly know the rules, processes and options in good time.

As I understand it, a redacted pdf for resi EPCs is not illegal, but why should we have to pay Landmark 50p to obscure the property number?
Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-14 13:44:45

Food for thought for Anonymous Coward:

1. Domestic Energy Assessors pay two lodgement fees for every EPC they lodge. One to their Accreditation scheme (apparently for quality control, random reports get audited) and one to the Landmark register. Depending on the accreditation scheme, this costs an assessor £5.00 - £10.00 per report. They are already paying Landmark for storing EPCs.

2. The only money the government makes from an independent assessor's EPC in most cases is the income tax paid by the assessor (most don't earn enough to be Vat registered), unless you count the VAT on the aforementioned lodgement fees. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by jobs for the lads, but no friends of the government get anything from EPCs that I know of... Except for maybe point 3 below.

3. If you want to point the finger at anyone here, check out who owns the Landmark group (I'll give you a hint, find the newspaper that's most likely to moan about HIPs, EPCs, etc), and think about their profit... I'll get you started, each residential report means £1.15 straight to Landmark, each commercial report £5.36. Publicly available figures will tell you how many EPCs have been lodged since 2007. These are the people who want commercial agents to pay to provide a reducted EPC.

Oh, one last thought... Residential agents don't have that choice... Even if an agent wanted to pay 50p per click, this is only for commercial EPCs.
Added by roy on 2012-03-14 13:08:21

Now that really was helpful and constructive information
NOT
I always wondered why Agents had a poor reputation ??

BMW s all round

Added by Anonymous Coward on 2012-03-14 12:30:17

Classic Left Hand / Right Hand joined up thinking here.

DCLG: "OK guys, EPCs - everyone needs one, jobs for the boys!"
Landmark: Inspectors can't afford to pay us to host them because they are getting screwed over"
DCLG: "Well you can't charge for them because of Freedom Of Information"
Landmark: "Agents get loads of money and need to comply with Data Protection - lets charge them 50p for a two inch square box of nothing!"
DCLG: "Now that's thinking"

Reminds me of HHGTTG, Deep Thought, Vroomfondel and Majicthise discussing the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything, to which the answer is 42.

Q: Why don't we think of things like that?
A: Our minds must be too highly trained...
Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-14 11:20:01

IHS,

The description of 'Written Particulars' in the EPBR Statutory Instruments excludes almost all newspaper type advertising:

"in relation to a building to be sold, any written description of the property which includes at least two of the following—
(i)a photograph of the building or any room in the building,
(ii)a floor plan of the building,
(iii)the size of the rooms in the building, or
(iv)the measured area of the building"

As long as you don't put measurements in your newspaper ads, you should be fine.
Added by IHS on 2012-03-14 11:04:13

Thanks 'EPC advice' - another question - we already attach EPC's to our internet advertising on our own web site so presumably will have to be shown on Rightmove et al. However what about newspaper adverts?

Added by John on 2012-03-14 11:01:57

EAT

While I understand that the headline is everthing ? why do you ask people who dont know anything IE Nick Salmon a small agent who does not really Know or say anything positive at all.

I see your role as educational not BMW about it.
Get the facts as they happen and publish them . In this way you will be helping your reader, let them ask questins then publish answer's
Otherwise we may as well read the SUN

Who is that does IT for Salmon ?? You can't base your comments on one source, that you dont know who they are or if they are any good.
Let's have HELP not negativity.

Added by EPC Advice on 2012-03-14 10:50:54

Regulations currently say that an EPC must be less than ten years old when marketing begins, so anyone who has a report less than ten years old will not need a new one, but will need to put the first page of their EPC on any advertising details. It's worth mentioning that, due to the wording of the rules and the lack of an expiry date on a domestic EPC, this rule could be changed in years to come (to less than three years old, for instance)

A large part of the CLG's reasoning regarding the changes is to address the large scale non-compliance by estate and letting agents (to be fair commercial agents are much worse).

By providing a full front page for every property, the Trading Standards Officer can take a day out drinking coffee at his desk and pick properties off Rightmove, Zoopla and Prime Location at random and check the EPCs against the properties, also checking the RRNs against the EPC register. Non-compliance will become very visible. In the past five years, I have only heard of one spot check on a local letting agent, but this could change very quickly... Expect fines to become more common if this goes ahead on 6th April.

I know you will all think I'm picking a fight, but if agents had been actively seen to promote the EPC over the past five years instead of burying them in the back of the filing cabinet, the government probably wouldn't have had to change anything... The more sales and letting agents try to kill the EPC, the harder the government fights back. Wouldn't it be a better use of everyone's time to just get on with it?
Added by Roy on 2012-03-14 10:18:23

IHS
This only applies to new domestic EPC that you can't get yet ?
You can not convert old into new as the survey for EPCs changes on 6th April. ( cost will go up no doubt)
I believe the graph will continue to be used on Old style EPC,which are valid for ten years.

Commercial EPC is to stay the same as it is now.
Added by IHS on 2012-03-14 10:07:57

May be a dumb question but do existing EPC's have to be converted to the new format or can we just attach the first page of the old EPC?
Added by John on 2012-03-14 09:57:12

Der Yer

Now you are talking Illegal !!
Altering a legally required document is criminal act!

Why stop at the address, why not inprove the rating as Well ?

If you focus on getting the job done in professional manner It would be better use of your time ?

And you all wonder why CLG are having difficulty with this.

You cant educate people who don't want to listen ??

Added by Alan - CHIPS Surveyors Ltd on 2012-03-14 09:54:08

The document sent out by DCLG recently (called "Landmark Information Group EPC Retrieval System, (r2.0 2012/02/23)" states in section 1.2

"1. A standard service. An EPC can be retrieved from the EPC Register and attached to online written particulars, and
2. An enhanced service. Where confidentiality issues surround a commercial property transaction, a redacted EPC with the address removed can be retrieved
from the EPC Register and attached to on‐line written particulars."

In section 2.4 the document talks about redacted non-domestic EPC's and says
"An agent is charged £0.50+VAT every time a redacted EPC is retrieved via the website or API1."

So, unless there's a later document (and there could be, based on DCLG's desire to keep these things secret!) then it looks like redacted EPC's are only for commercial property and cost 50p (+VAT) to download.

I agree that this type of document is pretty typical of DCLG in that it raises as many questions as it answers.

I wouldn't, of course, condone redacting an EPC (which I think is probably an offence), but I have found that you can black out the address and other details of an EPC using Adobe Standard.
Added by John on 2012-03-14 09:49:32

Hawkeye

Do you really think the goverment would get every agent in the country to

So when this goes on the WWW anyone who looks who is not a prospect is causing me the honest letting/selling agent to perpetrate a criminal act!

Its irelavant comments like these that cause all the confusion ??
Be positive and embrace the change you will feel much better.

Added by DerYerTekDSS? on 2012-03-14 09:18:11

Rewind, Alan CHIPS. I thought CLG had agreed to agents using redacted EPCs???

As I understand it, Landmark want to charge agents 50p per redacted download? Even if we initially download it ourselves and host it ourselves, we still have to pay 50p for the privilege as well as printing a side of colour A4 @ 10p for each set of details.

Anyone know how to edit a locked pdf file, so we can take the house name / no. off? Freeware suggestions?

The attachments sent out by CLG the other day were as clear as mud, and the fact there is such confusion on this page shows CLG have done a terrible job. P45 the lot of 'em.
Added by Hawkeye on 2012-03-14 09:08:56

Landmark says:

it is a criminal offence to show or allow someone else to show any EPC or recommendation report, or any information taken from it (including a reference number) to anyone, unless:

•you are giving it in line with your (or someone else's) decision to buy or rent the building the EPC relates to;
bla bla bla.

So when this goes on the WWW anyone who looks who is not a prospect is causing me the honest letting/selling agent to perpetrate a criminal act!

I am with Shipside Amphitheater, this is all nonsense for nonsense’s sake.
Added by John on 2012-03-14 08:43:09

Who is this Nick Salmon anyway
If his It cant do this in 5 Days they need less coffee breaks.
The link is provide for them so they just need to add it .
If they cant give me a shout I have a 15 year old who will do it for you.
Tipex No comment ?
Added by Alan CHIPS Surveyors Ltd on 2012-03-14 08:39:42

My understanding of the new regs is that it is only commercial agents who will be able to order (for a 50p fee) redacted EPC's.
Residential agents will have to use the full EPC with no information (such as property address) removed and there is no facility for them to use a redacted EPC at all.
The consumer will not have to pay to see the EPC that can, as I understand it, be provided as a URL link from an agents website.
All printed marketing material will have to use the full first page (not just the asset rating graphs) of the EPC.
As a Surveyor I asked DCLG to provide me with a copy of the guidance issued for Estate Agents, but was refused. This is despite the fact that I was trying to get this information to local agents who might not have seen it otherwise.
It seems that DCLG are doing almost everything in their power to ensure that the introduction of the new EPC regulations is a repeat of the many debacles we've seen in recent years!
Added by Roy on 2012-03-14 08:33:44

Here we go again more misguided information and people jumping to conclusions.
1 The landmark register is for agents to download the NEW EPC to put on a Website if they want to.

As they legislation starts 6TH April and you can only start to produce New EPC on that day you have a further 7 days to get one, then 21 more days if you need to. Provided you have ordered YOUR EPC.you have 28 days after the 6th April to put them on the website ?

These are not big changes for Domestic Agents.
The front page EPC replaces the graph on your website don't get hung up over details that is your IT Job .

AS for tipex well I think someone needs a basic computer course the kind 5 year old take?
Added by Shipside's Ampitheatre on 2012-03-14 07:55:11

So, every time a consumer clicks through to a redacted EPC, Landmark expect me to pay 50p?

Well, they can shove it. Sideways.

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