Official EPC guidance finally arrives, complete with muddle

Monday 26th March 2012
Written by Rosalind Renshaw

With just two weeks to go, the Government has finally produced its Q & A guidance on the changes to Energy Performance Certificates – complete with one glaring anomaly.

CLG are now under pressure to clear this up and have indicated that they may release further guidance in certain areas.

What agents now have gives seven days from commencement of marketing for an EPC to be obtained, followed by 21-day period of ‘grace’ should it have proved impossible to obtain one.

However, the guidance contradicts itself, by then saying that the EPC must be made available to prospective buyers and tenants when they request information, or when a viewing takes place.

The guidance underlines that the EPC must not be provided later than either of those two events.

If CLG stick to this, it means that agents might not be able to conduct viewings on the first day of marketing – or even within the first week, or at a push, the first 28 days, whilst awaitingan EPC.

Nick Salmon said that the requirement to produce an EPC on a viewing ‘sets every alarm bell ringing’

He said: “Does it means that if I take a property on the market and the EPC is ordered, that I cannot do viewings on the property unless the EPC is actually at hand?

“Have they just killed off first-day marketing again.”

The requirement to have an EPC ready for viewings is repeated on both pages 3 and 4 of the guidance.

On page 4, it says:

Q. When should the EPC be made available under the new regulations?


A. The EPC should be made available as early as possible and in particular, when a prospective buyer or tenant requests information in writing or views the property in question. In addition, the seller or landlord must ensure that an EPC has been given to the person who ultimately becomes the buyer or tenant.

Salmon said: “We need an urgent answer to this. Unless CLG make it clear that viewings can be made while the EPC is ordered but awaited, we are back in the dark days of their mega-stupidity with HIPs.”

The guidance, which cites an industry survey which found that 36% of estate agents believed EPCs were only needed at the point of sale as one of the reasons for introducing the changes, answers a number of outstanding issues, although it does suggest that agents needing further clarification take their own legal advice.

It makes it clear that the ultimate responsibility to make an EPC available to potential buyers and tenants rests with sellers and landlords. However, under a new duty, an agent must be satisfied that an EPC has been commissioned before marketing can start. Trading Standards officers can ask for evidence of this.

The seller, landlord or their agent must use ‘all reasonable efforts’ to obtain the EPC within seven days of the start of marketing. A further 21 days is allowed if necessary. “The effect of this is to provide an absolute duty to obtain an EPC within 28 days of the property going on the market,” says the guidance.

If the property remains on the market after 28 days without an EPC, Trading Standards officers may serve a £200 penalty notice ‘even if there is a legitimate reason for the delay’.

The guidance also defines ‘written particulars’ and what the ‘giving’ of written particulars is.

“The giving of written particulars includes making them available electronically, such as in an email or as information on a website.” In other words, agents will have to retrieve the EPC from the central Register and attach it to online written particulars.

However, newspaper adverts and estate agents’ window cards appear to be let off the hook. This, too, needs further clarification as the guidance actually specifies ‘lets’.

Q. Do newspaper adverts or window cards for property lets meet the definition of written particulars?

A. No. The requirement to attach a copy of the front page of the EPC to written particulars is where an agent provides written particulars to a person (i.e. a specific individual) who may be interested in buying or renting the building.

This implies that a copy of the front page of the EPC does not need to be attached to ‘advertising material’, i.e. a newspaper or window card.

The guidance also clarifies what ‘attached’ means: the first page of the EPC can be incorporated into the property details, or attached.

CLG has stuck to its guns about not allowing addresses to be redacted from residential EPCs, although redactions are allowed from commercial EPCs.

It says addresses cannot be removed from domestic EPCs, and in an apparent swipe at NFoPP and RICS, which wanted redactions, the guidance says: “Following discussions with property agents’ representatives it was agreed there was no requirement to extend this service to domestic sales and rentals.”

One issue which is not specifically addressed in the Q & A concerns lists of available rental properties which are sent or emailed to applicants.

However, as the guidance suggests that properties listed would meet the criteria of ‘written particulars’, a list could hypothically list 15 rental properties on an A4 sheet of paper, and then have individual EPCs attached.

The changes kick in on April 6. CLG has provided EAT with no link to the guidance, but any agent who has not seen the Q & A guidance can email EPC.Enquiry@communities.gsi.gov.uk

(37) Comments

Added by LondonAgent on 2012-03-28 14:43:19

1.the duty to commission an EPC before marketing will be extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings;
2. the current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using ‘reasonable efforts’ will be reduced to 7 days;
3.if after that 7 day period the EPC has not been secured the relevant person will have a further 21 days in which to do so.

So, point 3 means 28 days as well.
Added by Fun Boy Agent on 2012-03-27 16:35:43

Did we get an answer on staples or paper clips yet?
What will be legal?
Added by LondonAgent on 2012-03-27 16:00:52

I would like to see an EPC for the House of Commons and Chequers. Or any of the huge piles the 'Lords' inherit and inhabit.
Added by Jonnie on 2012-03-27 15:12:23

@Docklansdude

Nice point and well made.

EPC’s / energy efficiency and all that are going to be a consumer choice – we will have the extremes such as the lady we had in here a while back that insisted on walking to all viewings, quite possibly had never had any meat in her mouth ever and was very much green enough to have put the Green in Greenham Common as im confident that her and her ‘sisters’ had camped there many years ago.

Then you have the other extreme and to nick your example a bloke in an AMG V12 Merc………….trouble is me and you have to deal with all sorts, part of the job and rich tapestry of life and all that and if you go to a Merc dealer and see an V12 monster in the showroom what’s it got on the display next to it with the price and options? – yup, an EPC, and do buyers of this type of car look at it? No, I doubt it.

So, best we all just do them – its part of being an EA, trying to keep every body happy all of the time.

Jonnie
Added by PeeBee on 2012-03-27 15:01:34

Ladies and gentlefolks...

Have just laid eyes on the guidance notes this refers to.

Thought I would show you how reliant you can be on them with a quote:

"This note is not intended to provide a comprehensive summary of the changes taking effect on the 6th April 2012 but simply aims to answer the most popular questions.
Please note:
The Department is unable to provide Legal advice and in any case we cannot provide a definitive interpretation of the law as only the Courts are able to do this. Nonetheless, we hope this information in relation to your query is helpful.
You may need to consult the legislation itself to see how it applies in your circumstances; it is your own responsibility to ensure that you comply with the legislation.
Should you require further clarification you should seek your own Legal advice.
This information may be updated by the Department as required."

In other words - YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN - COS WE DON'T KNOW!

Ho, hum...!
Added by DocklandsDude on 2012-03-27 13:05:31

Whilst forcing an EPC on a buyers, he looked bemused and asked what it was. I explained.

I remember telling him that if he spent £2100 on the property he would save an estimated £130 a year - he laughed - jokingly I said "Think of the planet" - "Yeah right" was his reply as he drove off in his 6.3 AMG Merc.
Added by Puzzled of Tunbridge Wells on 2012-03-27 09:02:30

I'd be tempted to produce an EPC with ludicrous, made up figures in it - make it clear to anyone who asks that an EPC is available but, unfortunately, a computer error has produced inaccurate figures and the corrected one will be available in 7 days.

In the meantime you could use your vast industry knowledge to indicate things like:

The property has double glazing and the bog standard 4" of insulation in the loft - so it will be about average to heat.

Or, the property has a new condensing boiler so it should be a bit more efficient.

Or, the property has old timber windows so you might want to consider installing double glazing in the future to cut your heating bills etc.

I suppose you could even throw in a mention about whether energy saving bulbs are installed.

I imagine too you have some sort of general disclaimer/apology along the lines of; 'We apologise for treating you like a fool, but the government insists on it.'
Added by calm down on 2012-03-26 20:38:15

Why worry.

Any govt who thought of that stamp duty idea and then tried gettting the house market going by awarding all the money to 'new homes' is clearly as stupid as labour was when they introduced HIPs.

Chill out guys. No one is checking anyway x
Added by peter on 2012-03-26 13:08:19

Does anyone know where we can find the guidance notes as they do not seem to be on the DCLG website
Added by OMG lol on 2012-03-26 12:00:36

So where is the link to this guidance?
Added by Lettings Guru on 2012-03-26 11:57:30

I agree with EW's pragmatic comments - and he is right.

Even an agent who complies with the existing rules is unlikely to incur the wrath of TSI when they change and the worst they will get is 'advice' in the unlikely event that TSI actually understand what is actually required. Besides - who on earth will ever raise a complaint?
Added by Ray Evans on 2012-03-26 11:30:33

@Eddie Waring on 2012-03-26 09:58:59

If the cap fits...........

However the discussion does seem more relevant to the subject matter today.

I agree with EW
Added by KBG on 2012-03-26 11:29:19

I agree totally with what EW says - TSI really have got more on their plate than a pointless bit of EU legislation which, even if omitted, hurts no one.

I have NEVER had so much as a viewing declined as a result of an EPC and frankly cant see what their real point is other than to create work. Fine, we will do as told, but will they be policed? Our company has 20 offices and to date, not one interaction with Trading Standards. Why - they dont know about the rules and care even less.

Added by Dave@CW on 2012-03-26 11:09:14

Well said EW
Added by on 2012-03-26 10:29:51

John - It's "you're", not "your right to retire". Before you jump on the aggressive/offensive.

London Agent - Thats always been my thought, too. EPCs are a Euro directive, but in practice, are they? You're spot on. One rule for us..
Added by Devon Agent on 2012-03-26 10:11:21

Well said EW, I couldn't agree more!!
Added by Rosalind Renshaw on 2012-03-26 10:10:40

The correct email address is now at the bottom of the story.
Added by Nicola Smith on 2012-03-26 10:08:41

I am also still unclear as to what is defined as written particulars, even with the new guidelines. What about lists of available properties, if you have, for instance, 18 properties available and someone comes in to ask for a list do we have to attach 18 EPC's? These do have a photo and a price and a brief description. Who ever takes one may not even go on to view anything.

We do not have individula brochures for rental properties.
Added by peter on 2012-03-26 10:07:01

Can someone post a correct email address for DCLG
Added by Correct email address on 2012-03-26 10:04:30

The correct email is:

uselesssuperannuatedclockwatchinginstitutionalisedtimeservingploddingbonebrainparasitebastards@communities.gsi.gov.uk
Added by roy on 2012-03-26 10:02:30

Well said EW
Added by Eddie Waring on 2012-03-26 09:58:59

@ Ray Evans

We just love being patronised. Thank-you.
Added by EW on 2012-03-26 09:55:47

In my experience of EPC's to date, I really wouldn't worry too much. It's panic stations unnecessarily.

The simple truth is that as the issue remains a tad muddled.

The under resourced Trading Standards will not know what to enforce and will focus on more important issues such a counterfeit booze, timeshame, garages etc.

I can't see an incomplete EPC featuring on Rogue Traders. If it did, viewing figures may be affected.

All professional agents order an EPC as soon as possible and display it as they should in the remote hope someone will actually look at it.

That general rule is such that I really cant see anyone falling foul of the spirit of the Law.



Added by Martin Smith on 2012-03-26 09:39:45

Email should be EPC.Enquiry@communities.gsi.gov.uk
Added by LondonAgent on 2012-03-26 09:35:50

European Legislation?

Find a website for rentals is Brussels. Try and find an EPC.

One rule for us.....
Added by John on 2012-03-26 09:32:51

Hawkeye ( stupid name )
YES your right time to retire?

This is european legislation you ignorant person ??

IT WILL NOT BE GOING AWAY
stop your BMWs and get on with it ?
Added by on 2012-03-26 09:09:26

All of this is worthless until the government explains to tenants and to prospective purchasers WHY the EPC is important and how to understand its recommendations,.
Added by Hawkeye on 2012-03-26 09:04:58

Time to retire methinks.

Bunch of wasters going to ruin a business when they have no idea how it works.

I said all along HIPS would never work and I say again that this piece of rap with a silent C will go the same way but it will just take a bit longer.

When will the idiots writing a ticket for an income they do not deserve realise that nobody gives a tinkers cuss about these certificates.

Wait a bit though I had a telephone enquiry from someone the other day who wanted a house with x accommodation and y features at z price and an energy performance of C or better. I tore the enquiry up and threw it in the bin as I dont have time to sort out this kind of stuff.

Added by Rosalind Renshaw on 2012-03-26 09:04:09

Re the CLG email address apparently not working, I have asked CLG to send me a link, which I will post up as soon as it is received.
Added by Eamon on 2012-03-26 08:58:19

Can anyone tell me why the email address Enquiry@communities.gsi.gov.uk isnt working. Has CLG already gone done with the amount of enquiries coming in??????
Added by roy on 2012-03-26 08:50:01

Mr salmon is wrong again as usual you just need to order your Epc from a local Dea or get the client to order one when you go out to view property? they will need one anyway. It can be done same day so no problem
If you have problem get new Dea get 2 or 3
Simple
Added by LondonAgent on 2012-03-26 08:47:24

I have a Q & A of my own:

Q: New EPC regs - Why?

A: .... on a postcard
Added by Ray Evans on 2012-03-26 08:44:08

Can we have a grown up discusssion, if any, on this subject today for a change?
Added by Winston Wilson on 2012-03-26 08:15:59

Lets all go to dinner with David Cameron?
Added by SGHI on 2012-03-26 08:15:29

Good lord!

Oh for Pete's sake...DCLG (or the one Civil Servant behind these writings) needs to step right back out of it and hand it over to an organisation more capapble of sorting it out, DCLG have proven themselves completely bl**dy useless since 2006/7 when HIPs came out of the ground. You lot need to save the tax payer's money and downsize/outsource...and then go get a real job out here in unprotected private sector land and see how long you last.

You could'nt direct traffic on the motorway!
Added by Rebel on 2012-03-26 07:40:29

To allow redacted EPCs, why the hell didn't PBK just bung the Tory Party Treasurer £250 in a brown envelope?
Added by Debbie Does EPCs on 2012-03-26 07:29:28

Do we still have 7 working days from the time of a Trading Standards Officer visit / enquiry to provide evidence? What are their rights of entry / enquiry?

Why is it our responsibility to email them to get the final rules? They have their own databases based on HIPs and all the agents that enquired a few weeks ago and received all the Landmark crap. I have received nothing. Do they expect us to be telepathic?

I predict theres a big hole in the legislation (not the guidance notes) that allows us to ignore all this guff.

Related News Stories

Demand for property soars as sales stock diminishes
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Estate Agency Foundation gets new chairman
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Website developed to drive business to agents
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

'UK now operating two housing markets'
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Positive growth or house price bubble?
Wednesday 22nd January 2014

Most Read News Stories