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Energy Performance of Buildings (EPB) Regulations 2011 Amendments – “A glimmer of hope or another false dawn”

As a Commercial Energy Assessor, the 2011 Amendments to the existing EPB Regulations makes an extremely pleasant read. After fighting for scraps of work this past 2 years and seeing fees fall at an alarming rate, I think the implementation of these amendments in July of this year will be a watershed for a lot of Assessors.

Maybe, like myself, others have hung in there, hoping that non-compliance was the major reason, we are not as busy or earning the levels of income we were led to believe we would do by our Training Companies?

 

Well this is it, from the 1st July, the following changes are scheduled to take effect:

The duty to commission an EPC before marketing is extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings

the current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using ‘reasonable efforts’ is reduced to 7 days

if after that 7 day period the EPC has not been secured the relevant person has a further 21 days to do so.

Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) currently have the power to require the ’relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to produce copies of the EPC for inspection and to take copies if necessary. The power to require the production of documents will be extended to include persons acting on behalf of the seller or landlord – e.g. estate agents and letting agents. This means, for example, that TSOs will be authorised to require estate agents to produce evidence showing that an EPC has been commissioned where they are marketing a building without one.

(Read the full summary of the EPB 2011 Amendment in the attached document.)

The information shows that Department of Communities & Local Government minister Andrew Stunell has kept faith with his promise in January, that commercial estate agents will be given the same responsibility for marketing only properties with EPCs that domestic estate agents have always had.

The primary responsibility for obtaining an EPC will continue to rest with the building owner, but the summary clearly suggests that any agent of the owner will have responsibility for ensuring that an EPC has been obtained before marketing of the property.

The new regs also close a loophole which has allowed many building owners to obtain a commercial EPC only at the last minute, when a sale or letting is about to take effect.

The summary of the new regulations, prepared for internal use within DCLG, leaves little doubt that the government is out to get anyone marketing any property without an EPC.

This tends to confirm rumours which have been circulating amongst industry insiders that EPCs are to form a major element in the government’s carbon reduction strategy.

The new regs, originally due in April, have been slightly delayed, and are not now scheduled to be issued until 1 July 2011, but almost all their provisions are due to come into force on that date.

They also give trading standards officers’ enhanced powers to require estate agents to produce evidence that an EPC exists or has been commissioned, and introduce changes ‘to enable TSOs to enforce the new duties’.

Other changes in the regs include a requirement that a copy of the EPC must be attached to all property details, which will also affect domestic agents, since the option to include the EPC rating in the property particulars will no longer apply. This requirement alone will take effect on 1 October 2011.

To be fair to the government, it does seem to be pushing on with this as fast as possible, but these dates could be subject to some change, since the process is ongoing.

DCLG spokesperson David Carnell said today: ‘The amending regulations have not yet been laid before Parliament and are currently being considered by the Regulatory Policy Committee.

‘Provided the necessary clearances are obtained we intend to lay the regulations as soon as possible, and bring most of the changes into force on 1st July 2011, though one of the proposed changes will take effect on 1 October 2011.

‘As we still await all the necessary clearances however, these dates are provisional and subject to change’.

Having recently visiting a couple of my Commercial Letting Agent contacts, it was pleasing and reassuring to learn that were aware of this document and were already formulating approaches for dealing with it e.g. one agent was proposing to write to all his clients making them aware of the changes and the need to obtain an EPC, so they themselves had at least a paper trail, should they be approached by the local TSOs.

At the end of the day, we do need support from our local TSO’s to get out there and police these changes, so maybe speak to your local MP and get him on board and making enquiries on your behalf to find out what the local TSOs approach is likely to be?

Fingers crossed this is a huge step in the right direction for us all!

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