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Rent Guarantee Scheme

EPCs are about to get a bit more bite

EPCs: changes are afoot

Changes are afoot and the relatively toothless EPC is about to get a bit more bite. Find out what this may mean for you if you are letting property in and around Brighton.

EPCs are part of the fixtures and fittings

EPCs are, by now, part of the letting fixtures and fittings: they have been around long enough to be simply part of the routine administrative work that is involved in letting out a property.

As a piece of paperwork they have the benefit of being more colourful than much that crosses our desks and, of course, their intention to raise awareness of how energy efficient our homes are is praiseworthy.

Since 2008 all landlords have had to provide an EPC to all new and prospective tenants. The EPC rates your property, on a scale of A to G, for its energy efficiency. They cost under a £100 for the assessment – which is valid for ten years – and the only additional risk a landlord has faced, up till now, is a fine from the local authority should an EPC not be made available.

Changes to EPCs

The EPC previously made recommendations only. It highlighted how we could improve the energy efficiency of our properties, but it had no real bite.
All this is about to change.

Under sweeping changes to what an EPC means, and what it can be made to do, landlords in England and Wales will be banned from renting out property that is currently rated F or G from April 2018.

Almost 10% of the 4.2m privately rented homes in England and Wales currently fall below the E rating. This is symptomatic of the fact that much of the housing stock here is some of the oldest, and draughtiest, in Europe: and nowhere is this truer than in Regency Brighton.

What’s more the new regulations could begin to bite much earlier than 2018.

From April 2016 tenants living in homes with an F- or G- rating can request improvements to be made, and the landlord will be legally bound to bring the home up to at least an E-rating.

Quite a big stick

Introducing the change in February, Ed Davey, then the energy and climate minister, commented it was “a very big measure” and “quite a big stick”. The carrot offered is noticeably smaller, although vague promises of grants to alleviate upfront costs have been made.

Landlord organisations have been tentative in their acceptance of the change as a necessary evil. The NLA’s CEO, Richard Lambert, commented that “there is a realistic prospect of landlords being able to comply”. He went on to point out that the standards to meet were “sensible rather than aspirational” and that timescales to make the changes were probably manageable.

Dig out that EPC paperwork

My advice to landlords is to dig out that EPC and check to see if you are going to be affected. The more time you allow yourselves to plan for improvements the less of a jolt it’s going to be.
As ever with regulation changes: forewarned is forearmed.

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