The government has not relaxed the requirements for the production of an EPC on the sale or letting of properties but has issued guidance on how and when they should be carried out.
When is an Energy Performance Certificate required?
An EPC must be provided on the sale or letting of a property. If there is not an existing EPC, the seller or landlord must commission one before marketing the property. The EPC rating must be included in any advertisements of the property for sale or letting and a copy of the EPC made available to the prospective buyer or tenant.
There are separate obligations to provide an EPC following the completion of construction works or following substantial alterations to a property.
EPCs last for 10 years. If there is a valid EPC for a property, you can use that EPC for the purposes of marketing and selling or letting it. As the obligation is to provide a valid EPC at the point of marketing, it would not appear to be a breach of the EPC regulations if the EPC expires before the completion date.
Have these requirements been relaxed due to Coronavirus?
The latest government guidance (here) states that the legal requirement to obtain an EPC before selling or letting a property remains in place. However, any assessment carried out by an assessor must be carried out in accordance with the government’s guidance on social distancing.
The guidance says:
- Where a property is occupied, the parties must endeavour to agree that the transaction can be delayed, so that an EPC assessment can proceed when stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus are no longer in place.
- If moving is unavoidable and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, and a valid EPC is not available from the register, an assessment may need to be conducted. In these circumstances, government guidelines on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus must be followed alongside the guidance for carrying out work in people’s homes.
- EPC assessments can continue in cases where the property is vacant.
- No assessments should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded – if securing an EPC is critical you should seek to reschedule your appointment when it is safe to do so in accordance with government guidelines on staying away from others.
Are there any rules that apply where it is not reasonably practicable to obtain an EPC?
The existing rules relating to the production of EPCs may assist a seller or landlord. Where a building is to be let or sold, the EPC regulations require that all reasonable efforts must be made to obtain a valid EPC for the building before the end of a period of 7 days starting with the day on which the building was first put on the market.
If all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain a valid EPC but this has not been possible, a further 21 days are allowed as a grace period. After this period, enforcement action can be taken by enforcement authorities in line with the EPC regulations.
In practice, therefore, a seller or landlord who does not have an existing EPC has 28 days starting on the date on which the property was first put on the market to obtain an provide an EPC to potential buyers or tenants before facing the risk of enforcement action. This may provide sufficient time to comply with the EPC requirements.