The coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all branches of life, including Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs). If you are putting your property on the market, either to rent out or to sell, you must have an EPC to show the energy efficiency rating of the property.
Although some concessions have been made to help you obtain an EPC (as detailed below), the government has not removed the requirement for buildings to have a valid EPC before being sold or let.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
An EPC helps potential tenants or buyers to compare properties when it comes to running costs and energy insulation. EPC ratings run from A (the highest rating) to G (the lowest rating).
A property that has better insulation (such as double glazing) and more energy-efficient heating and air-conditioning will have the advantage of a better EPC rating and lower energy bills.
Energy assessors will check your premises and provide you with an EPC. Once you have the certification, it is valid for 10 years unless you make changes that may affect your energy efficiency rating.
How has Coronavirus Affected EPCs?
The main issue with getting an EPC during the COVID-19 is accommodating the recommended rules for social distancing. On the one hand, you can be prosecuted if you try to sell or rent out a property which does not have a current EPC. On the other hand, the government advice on social distancing to minimise the spread of COVID-19 includes the following advice:
- Stay at home and only go outside for food, health reasons or work. You should work from home, if possible.
- Stay at least 2 metres away from other people
- Wash your hands regularly
Obviously those responsible for carrying out EPCs need to personally inspect the premises. These assessors are taking sensible precautions and complying with government recommendations.
How to Get an EPC Within Government Guidelines
The Stay at Home advice includes not inviting family, friends, and visitors into your home. This means you should defer moving to a new house, either as a buyer or renter, if possible.
If the move must go forward, a valid EPC must still be obtained. If the property is unoccupied, there is no risk of social contact and the EPC inspection can go ahead.
If the property is occupied, the government has issued recommendations for maintaining safety while work is carried out in the home, including keeping a 2 metre distance from other people. If possible, residents should move to another room while the inspection is being carried out.
The EPC inspection should not take place if:
- Anyone in the house has symptoms of coronavirus (including fever, unusual tiredness and a cough)
- Anyone in the house is particularly vulnerable and is being shielded
- The person conducting the EPC has any symptoms or feels unwell
What Happens if You Do Not Obtain an EPC?
The government has instigated a grace period to enable landlords or sellers to get an Energy Performance Certificate. Normally, an EPC is required before the property is marketed, and it should be included within the initial sale documents.
Currently the rules have relaxed and state that a landlord/seller should make all reasonable efforts to get an EPC before marketing the property, or within 7 days of it being put on the market.
If this is impossible, perhaps due to some of the above conditions banning an EPC inspection from taking place, a further 21 days is allowed before enforcement action is taken. In a worst-case scenario, a seller or landlord has 28 days maximum to get an EPC, from the date of putting the property on the market.
How Much Does an EPC Cost?
Getting an EPC is not an expensive process, particularly as a valid certificate will last for 10 years. Prices vary depending on the size and location of your property and whether you require a domestic or commercial EPC.
Choose a reputable company whose assessors are professionals with industry recognised credentials. When it comes to pricing, ask for a quote first. If you want to be sure you are getting the best deal, choose a company such as EPC for You that offers fair pricing and a price match promise if you find a cheaper quote elsewhere. With offices across the UK, including EPC London, EPC Glasgow, and more, you will be sure to get the best help.