A new government regulation will require virtually every home going onto the sales or lettings market in England and Wales to have an energy performance certificate (EPC) by October 1.
 
The Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations 2007 makes it mandatory that nearly every property – even if it does not need a Home Information Pack (HIP) if it came onto the market before pack legislation took effect – must have a certificate, costing between £50 and £150 plus VAT.
 
Confusion has arisen, because Communities and Local Government, the government department responsible for advising on and implementing the legislation, is giving conflicting advice, according to Nick Salmon, an estate agent in Hertfordshire who also is head of the SPLINTA (Sellers’ Pack Law is Not the Answer) campaign.
 
He is calling the lack of prompt direction from CLG a disgrace.
 
‘The regulation is buried in complex energy performance legislation, which many believe conflicts with HIP legislation and CLG has done nothing to clarify it. It is a disgrace that with just three weeks to go they are still silent on the issue, set to cost home sellers collectively a huge amount of money,’ says Mr Salmon.
 
SPLINTA reckons the new regulation could affect as many as a quarter of a million properties currently on the market without a HIP, and therefore, without an EPC.
 
At an average of £100 each, the cost to consumers obtaining EPC’s could amount to £25 million and the tax paid to the government well over £4 million.
 
Mr Salmon suggests this sum might be better spent on home insulation, rather than sending inspectors to visit properties in hundreds of thousands of polluting car journeys.
 
Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, agrees there is confusion over energy performance certificates, particularly for properties still on the market that pre-date HIPs.
 
He sought clarification from the CLG recently and says, ‘According to the CLG, the EPC should be made available at the first opportunity when the property is first marketed. This doesn’t mean you should stop marketing a home without one, but you have to prove you have commissioned an EPC.’
 
The other hazy area is whether a non-HIP property has to have an EPC graph on the sales particulars. Agents, especially those selling high-end property with expensive brochures, are concerned pricey marketing materials might need to be re-printed with the graphs.
 
‘The CLG says that if property particulars have two out of three of the following: a photograph, floor plans and a description, then you will have to put an EPC graph on the details,’ says Mr Bolton King.
 
At a time when vendors are struggling to sell – and even let, in some instances – property, they might not be happy paying extra for more government initiatives connected to the marketing of property.
 
Mr Bolton King believes the recommendations provided by EPC inspectors ‘only works if combined with help, like grants, to carry out improvements to make homes more energy efficient.’
 
‘Having to pay out for a document that no one looks at and that shows energy cost estimates that bear no relationship to current soaring energy prices because the software used to produce them is totally out of date will be the last straw for a lot of people,’ says Mr Salmon.
 
He adds that the best course of action would be the government delaying the introduction of the regulation.
 
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) are being introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings with ‘A’ to ‘G’ ratings for each building (‘A’ the most energy efficient and ‘G’ the least), says the CLG (www.direct.gov.uk/epc).
 
Accredited energy assessors will produce EPCs alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient in order to help buyers or tenants compare the energy efficiency of different properties, the CLG claims.