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Energy performance certificates (EPCs)

If you are looking to sell or rent out your property it is important that you comply with the law relating to Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES).

An Energy Performance Certificate contains information about the energy efficiency of a property. It also contains information about the property's energy use, typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money.

An EPC gives the property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient).

An EPC applies to residential and commercial properties.

When a property is built, sold or rented out the owner, seller or landlord must provide any buyers or tenants with a valid EPC free of charge before the property is marketed.

If you rent out individual rooms within a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) (ie each room does not constitute self-contained accommodation), each individual room is not required to have its own EPC. The property will only have one EPC for the entire property.

There are certain situations where an EPC is not required. In England and Wales these are:

  • a building that is officially protected as a Listed building on Historic England (or the Welsh equivalent), if energy improvements may damage the building or its character

  • a building used as a place of worship or for religious activities

  • a temporary building with a planned time of use of 2 years or less

  • industrial sites, workshops or non-residential agricultural buildings which do not use lots of energy

  • standalone buildings (other than dwellings) with a useful floor area of fewer than 50 metres squared

  • holiday accommodation which is rented out for 4 months or less per year (or only rented under licence

  • residential buildings only intended to be used for 4 months or less per year

In Scotland, the buildings that do not require an EPC are:

  • temporary buildings with a planned time of use of 2 years or less

  • standalone buildings (other than dwellings) with a useful floor area of fewer than 50 metres squared

  • workshops, non-residential agricultural buildings and other buildings with a low energy demand

  • buildings sold for the purpose of demolition

EPCs are also not required if the property is let under a licence. Licences are not the same as tenancies and a licence is not considered to be a tenancy for the purposes of the energy regulations. A tenancy grants exclusive possession of the property, while a licence grants permission for a licensee to do something on the property. Holiday homes and lodger arrangements are let under a licence to occupy rather than a tenancy. If you're unsure what type of letting arrangement you have, Ask a lawyer.

An EPC is valid for 10 years from the date it is issued. A new EPC is not required each time there is a change in tenancy, or when the property is sold, as long as the EPC is no more than ten years old, and so long as the rating on the EPC is within the Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (eg band E or higher when creating a lease, since 1 April 2018).

An owner, landlord or tenant can choose to commission a new EPC within the ten-year period which will then replace the earlier EPC and become the current EPC for that property.

Once an EPC reaches the ten-year expiry date, there is no automatic requirement for a new one to be commissioned. A further EPC is only needed when a 'trigger point' is reached. A 'trigger point' can be when the property is next sold, let to a new tenant or substantially modified.

As the EPC relates to the property, rather than the owner, it will remain valid even after the property is sold on to a new owner, as long as it is less than ten years old.

You can search for an accredited assessor to undertake a domestic EPC assessment on the EPC Register website. You can also search for a copy of the current EPC for your property using the EPC Register website.

Where a property is legally required to have an EPC, it is an offence not to have one and the property’s owner may be subject to non-compliance penalties, including fines (up to 20% of the rateable value of the property). Where a landlord hasn't provided an assured shorthold tenant with an EPC, they will not be able to evict the tenant using a section 21 notice until an EPC has been given to the tenants. For further information, read Repossessing property - section 21 notices.

England and Wales

Since 1 April 2018, it is illegal to let out any residential property in England and Wales with an EPC rating of band F or G (the least efficient bands). 

Since 1 April 2020, it is illegal to continue letting out residential property that doesn't have an EPC rating of band E or higher. This means that from 1 April 2020 all residential property let out to tenants must have an EPC rating of band E or higher, even if the tenancy started before this date. 

The required ratings are subject to exemptions.

For commercial property, when new tenancies are created a property must currently have an EPC rating of band E or higher. From 1 April 2023, this minimum will apply to all commercial tenancies, new and existing. The minimum will continue to rise gradually until, by 1 April 2030, properties will need to have a minimum EPC rating of band B. 

Scotland

The band E standard required in Scotland was removed due to challenges facing the residential private rented sector during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Amended plans require that properties have a band C rating as a minimum by 2025, where this is technically feasible and cost-effective. The requirement will apply regardless of technical feasibility and cost-effectiveness from 2028. 

In Scotland, the EPC must be displayed somewhere within the property (eg in the meter cupboard or next to the boiler).

For further information read Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards for residential properties.