EPC’s ( Energy Performance Certificates ) – A number of properties in Dunstable and Leighton Buzzard will have expired EPC’s. Does yours need renewing?
EPCs were introduced in England and Wales on 1 August 2007 as part of Home Information Packs (HIPs) for domestic properties the requirement for HIPs was removed in May 2010 but the requirement for EPCs remained.
The requirement for rental properties to have an EPC was introduced on the 1st October 2008 and the certificates are valid for 10 years. This now means that EPC’s obtained from October 2008 may now need to be renewed as their 10 year anniversary arrives, but only if you are advertising the tenancy to re-let (or sell). If there are tenants in the property when the certificate runs out you do not have to renew until they leave and you advertise the property again.
What is an EPC
Energy performance certificates present the energy efficiency of dwellings on a scale of A to G. The most efficient homes – which should have the lowest fuel bills – are in band A. The certificate includes recommendations on ways to improve the home’s energy efficiency to save money.
EPC’s are a result of a European Union Directive relating to the energy performance of buildings, as transposed into British law by the Housing Act 2004 and The Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificates and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007.
The energy survey needed to produce an EPC is performed by an assessor who visits the property, examines key items such as loft insulation, domestic boiler, hot water tank, radiators, windows for double glazing, and so on. The assessor then inputs the observations into a software program which performs the calculation of energy efficiency. The exercise is entirely non-invasive, so the software will make assumptions on the insulation properties of various elements of the property based on age and construction type. The assessor has the ability to over-ride these assumptions if visual or written evidence is provided to support the presence of insulation which may have been subsequently installed.
A further objection is often made concerning the quality of inspection made to produce the certificate. It cannot be invasive, so the inspector cannot drill walls or ceilings to determine the state or even existence of any insulation. The Energy Assessor can either assume the worst (no insulation present) or rely on the householder to produce documentary evidence on what may have been installed. This can produce uncertainty about the validity of the output from the assessor's analysis.
New regulations for F & G rated properties
As from the 1st April 2018 there was a requirement for any properties rented out in the private rented sector to normally have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). The regulations came into force for new lets and renewals of tenancies with effect from 1st April 2018 and for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020. It will be unlawful to rent a property which breaches the requirement for a minimum E rating, unless there is an applicable exemption. A civil penalty of up to £4,000 will be imposed for breaches.
For most landlords this will mean that they will no longer be able to rent out a property with a rating of F or G after April 1st 2018. As such landlords with properties in this EPC bracket.
Some Dunstable & Leighton Buzzard landlords still do not comply with the regulations regarding Smoke alarms and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in rental properties !
The Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations 2015 came into force on the 1st October 2015 and 3 years later I am still surprised at the number of properties I am asked to manage for a private landlord where I find they are not aware or have not complied with the regulations and therefore risk a £5000 fine and more to the point the safety of their tenants.
Before the 1st October 2015 there was no requirement for a smoke alarm to be fitted in a residential rental property unless it was a HMO although I always insisted on at least one smoke alarm being fitted in every property we rented for a landlord. Sometimes I would have to fit them myself on the day a tenant moved in.
The new legislation was very welcome and the requirement is for a smoke alarm to be fitted on each floor of a property. These do not have to be hard wired into the electrical system although all new properties built since 1992 and fi you have had any building work carried out requiring Building Regulations such as an extension it has been a requirement.
At the time we were expecting the installation of Carbon Monoxide (Co2) alarms to be included in the legislation for all properties with gas appliances. When the regulations were announced the requirements for Co2 alarms were only for properties with solid fuel appliances such as log burners and open fires which I feel was a serious shortfall in the legislation..
When I first meet a landlord at a property with gas appliances I will suggest the installation of a Co2 alarm for the tenant’s safety if there are gas appliances/boilers. I do expect that within the next 2 years the installation of Co2 alarms will become mandatory.
So who is responsible for the Smoke Alarms before and during a tenancy?
The legislation states that the landlord/agent must have proof that the smoke alarms were installed and working on the day the tenancy started. Some agents will have an inventory carried out before a tenancy sometimes days before and on the inventory it will state that there are smoke alarms and they are working. This is not enough to satisfy the legislation and when a tenant moves into one of our properties we meet them at the property on the day to take meter readings, hand over the keys and check the smoke alarms all of which the tenants confirm on the checkin sheet.
When the tenants have moved into a property it is there responsibility to test the smoke alarms and change the batteries when required. I will check the smoke alarms are still functioning when I carry out a visit to a property and am surprised at how many tenants remove batteries when the alarms start beeping because the battery is running low. They then close the alarm cover and forget to replace the battery. I try and educate them to leave the cover open so they remember to replace the battery and to do so as soon as possible for their own safety. I also carry spare batteries so before I leave a property being inspected I can replace the battery myself and leave knowing that the smoke alarms are working again. Of course if the smoke alarms are faulty it is the landlords responsibility to replace them.
I have been told that in Australia before you can sell a property you must have a hard wired smoke alarm fitted.
Where should you install carbon monoxide detectors, particularly how high off the floor?
Carbon Monoxide Alarms can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is a common misunderstanding that Carbon Monoxide Alarms must be placed near the ground to accurately detect levels of CO. In truth, Carbon Monoxide is roughly the same weight as air, and distributes evenly throughout a room. This means a CO detector can be placed at any height on a wall or ceiling. It is important to keep in mind that the CO Alarm must be placed in an area that allows for the siren to be heard. As Carbon Monoxide moves freely through the air, the Alarm must not be located near a ceiling fan, or blocked by furniture in order to detect CO levels accurately. Be sure to keep your Carbon Monoxide Alarm clean, and out of the way of children or pets.
If you would like me to check that you are compliant with all legislation including smoke alarms, Co2 alarms, electrical safety, deposit money, Right to Rent checks etc please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Bourke is the owner of Belvoir Lettings Dunstable and in his previous career in Architecture he was an Associate in a leading London Architectural practice