Energy Performance Certificates (EPC)
Since 1 October 2008, landlords have been required to make an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) available to prospective tenants when a property is being advertised for sale or let. The purpose of the EPC is to show prospective tenants the energy performance of the dwelling they are considering renting.
The certificates show the energy efficiency rating, compare the home's energy performance-related features with the average ratings, and draw specific attention to the 'Green Deal' (see later).
An energy performance certificate and accompanying recommendation report lasts for ten years unless another EPC has been produced within that time, in which case only the latest one is valid.
Before advertising, a landlord must commission an EPC and use all reasonable efforts to ensure an energy performance certificate is obtained within seven days of marketing. If it is impossible to get the EPC within seven days, an additional 21 days is allowed. Still, these extra 21 days are only allowed if all reasonable efforts were made to obtain the EPC in the first seven days.
The energy performance indicator shown in the energy performance certificate must be displayed in any advertisement on the internet, in newspapers, magazines, written particulars, or any other ad. The ad should include either the numerical score or the letter representing the energy usage as shown on the EPC.
The EPC rating must be E or better unless the property is exempt - see the next section, "Energy Efficiency Improvements", for more information.
The EPC must be available to prospective tenants, free of charge, before they are given written details, arrange a viewing or agree on a letting. The EPC does not have to be given at this stage; just available if they ask. A copy of the EPC is acceptable.
The actual tenant who takes the property must have been given, free of charge, a full copy of the EPC, including the assessor's recommendation report.
It is required to provide an EPC when the property is let as a separate (or self-contained) dwelling. This also applies if a whole house or flat is being let to a group of sharers on only one contract.
With the letting of individual rooms, the guidance relating to when an EPC is required states:
An EPC is not required for an individual room when rented out, as it is not a building or a building unit designed or altered for separate use. The whole building will require an EPC if sold or rented out.
However, since October 2015, a landlord in England cannot serve a section 21 notice if they haven't given the tenant an EPC.
It is submitted that it's better to have one done for the whole building and give each room a copy of the EPC for the entire house when a new tenancy is granted. That way, there is no arguing over possession with the court.
Furthermore, the accelerated possession claim form asks has the tenant has been given an EPC- it doesn't have an option in the form for "an EPC is not required". An explanation would need to be added if no EPC is given.
Breaking the EPC rules can result in a £200 fixed penalty notice from Trading Standards.
EPCs are completed by registered Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs). An assessor can be found here.
Further information is available on the GOV.UK website.
Although the EPC may suggest several improvements that could be made, there is no legal obligation to undertake any of these works. Still, it is advisable to discuss with prospective tenants which (if any) of the energy-saving recommendations might be carried out or might already have been carried out. The landlord or agent may avoid complaints by being transparent and managing the tenant's expectations.
Section 21 Notices
A section 21 notice is the two months "no-fault" notice that a landlord can serve where there is an assured shorthold tenancy. The notice is discussed in detail later.
For assured shorthold tenancies granted on or after 1 October 2015 (including renewals), the landlord may not serve a section 21 notice unless the tenant has been first provided with an EPC, where an EPC is legally required.