Energy Performance Certificates: What landlords need to know

Landlord Advice

8 November 2019

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a key part of a landlord's energy efficiency obligations.

However, it’s more than just a legally required document: it acts as a measure of the quality of your property and can be a big selling point for tenants. In fact, all properties listed for sale or rent in the UK must have one.

And with significant penalties in place if you don't have an EPC for your rental property, it's never been more important to know the ABCs of your EPCs.

Get up to speed with this guide to EPC regulations for landlords.

What is an EPC?

An EPC is a certificate that shows how energy efficient a property is.

The EPC ratings range from Grade A (most efficient), to Grade G (least efficient). In theory, the higher the energy efficiency, the lower the running costs and vice versa. 

EPCs have been required by law since 2008 in England and Wales and 2009 in Scotland. Since 1st April 2018, all new lets and renewal tenancies must have a minimum energy performance rating of E on an Energy Performance Certificate. These regulations will come into effect for all existing tenancies on 1st April 2020.

An energy performance certificate provides information on how much energy the property uses, how costly it'll be to run its heating, hot water and lighting, and what the carbon dioxide emissions are likely to be.

It also offers practical recommendations on how to improve the rating. These improvements – which can range from installing insulation and double glazing, to using low-energy lighting – can not only lower your energy bills, they can help lessen the property's environmental impact.

Generally, new-build homes tend to have high EPC ratings, whereas older homes tend to have lower ones.

When do I need an EPC?

An EPC needs to be made available to prospective tenants as soon as you begin marketing a property for rent.

It's a good idea to make sure that the marketing advertising your property for rent include the building's EPC rating. In Scotland, an EPC certificate must be displayed clearly in the property you're renting out.

The earlier you have an EPC in place, the better. That way, potential tenants can make an informed decision before signing up to rent your property.

An EPC must be made available free of charge to interested parties who are seriously interested in renting out your property. You don't, however, have to provide an EPC if it's clear that the tenant is unlikely to be able to afford the rent or if you're not likely to choose this person as a tenant.

How do I get an EPC?

An energy performance certificate is produced after a certified assessor carries out an energy survey on a property.

During these surveys, assessors evaluate things such as loft insulation, boilers, radiators and double glazing to test the property's overall energy efficiency.

As such, you'll need to give the assessor access to all of the rooms in the property so that they can take the necessary measurements and photos to determine its energy rating.

Click on the links below to find an approved assessor to survey your rental property:

These surveys are designed to be non-invasive and the time taken to carry them out depends entirely on the size of the property in question.

If you think there's a mistake with your EPC, you can either get in touch with the Domestic Energy Assessor who issued the certificate, or the accreditation scheme the assessor is licenced by.

How much does an energy performance certificate cost?

EPCs cost between £60 and £120, so it's worth getting several quotes before getting an assessor to carry out a survey.

What penalties can you get for not having an EPC in place?

Failing to provide an EPC when required can result in a £200 fine per dwelling. And if your breach or violate the rules set out by your energy performance certificate, accidentally or otherwise, you could face fines of up to £5000.

How long is an EPC valid for?

An EPC is valid for 10 years after an energy survey is carried out on a property. It can be used multiple times during this period.

EPCs can be updated to reflect improvements made to the building to help improve energy efficiency. Just make sure that you get an approved Domestic Energy Assessor to update the property's energy use and performance.

Once it's expired, you'll need to apply for a new EPC for the next 10 years if you want to continue renting your property out.

How can I get a copy of my EPC certificate?

The EPC register is the government's online database of every EPC the length and breadth of the country.

If you're based in England or Wales, all you have to do to retrieve your property's energy performance certificate is enter your postcode into the Landmark Register.

For landlords in Scotland and Ireland, head to the Scottish EPC Register and the Northern Ireland Domestic EPC Register respectively.

You can also use a report reference number (RRN), which is the 24-digit number printed on the report or provided by the energy assessor who produced it, to find an EPC using the tools mentioned above.

Once an EPC is produced, it becomes accessible to the public. This means that anyone can view your EPC by using a property's postcode or RNN, unless it has an EPC produced for a building which is following the Government's Green Deal plan.

When you receive a copy of the energy performance certificate you need to ensure that it's displayed clearly in your property. Consider putting it somewhere logical, like the boiler or meter cupboard.

And just to keep your landlord life super organised, file away a copy of the EPC with the rest of your property's legal papers so that you can grab it in a hurry if need be.

EPC exemptions

Under UK law, all homeowners are required to have an EPC for each of their self-contained properties. However, there are a few exceptions this rule, as outlined below.

  • Listed buildings have been exempted from energy performance certificates since 2013 (as long as specific energy performance standards are met). If your listed building already had an EPC before this exemption came into place, you’ll need to ensure it has a minimum of an E rating before you rent it out.
  • Properties that are used for worship or religious activities are exempt from needing to source an EPC (except in Scotland).
  • Buildings sold to be demolished.
  • Stand-alone buildings (other than dwellings) with an entire usable floor area of less than 50m2.
  • Residential buildings that are used for less than four months of the year and that expect to use than 25% of what would be the full year's consumption.
  • Temporary buildings that will be used for two years or less.
  • Buildings with a low energy demand, such as industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings.

Since October 2016, landlords have also been able apply to their local council for an exemption to energy performance certificates as long as they can prove that improvements to reach the minimum standard wouldn’t be cost-effective, permitted or appropriate.

Landlords should also bear in mind that they can’t ignore tenants who request reasonable energy efficiency renovations to be made to their rental property.

The more energy efficient you make your rental property, the healthier your wallet is likely to be. Plus, the earlier you get your energy performance certificate in place, the better. Not only does this let you tick one more task off your landlord to-do-list, it leaves you more time to put your energy into the things that matter most to you.

Read our complete guide to becoming a landlord and the ultimate landlord paperwork planner for more advice on how to landlord like a pro.

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