FIRMS MAY FACE EPC FINES
02 Apr, 2012
Law firms could face £5,000 fines as new EPC regulations are enforced from April 6th
The UK’s largest independent provider of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) and Energy Surveys, The National EPC Company, is advising law firms to comply with new EPC regulations in order to avoid fines of up to £5,000. It is likely that Trading Standards officers will increase enforcement, and issuing of penalties, following these new regulatory changes.
This follows amendments to the EU Energy Performance of Buildings Directive in January this year. The changes not only place a duty on sellers and landlords, but also a new duty on persons acting on their behalf to satisfy themselves that an EPC is available or has been commissioned before the marketing process has begun.
There is concern that some law firms are unfamiliar with the new regulations that take effect from the 6th April. This may lead to firms facing financial penalties of up to £5,000 per breach, depending on the rateable value of a commercial property. A £200 penalty per breach will continue to apply to residential properties not possessing an EPC during the marketing process.
Business Development Director James Dodd from The National EPC Company said, “The new legislation aims to clarify the issue surrounding the requirement for an EPC. We are aware that some law firms still believe that the provision of an EPC can legitimately be delayed until shortly before the parties enter into a contract. This is no longer the case.
“Orders for commercial EPCs have more than doubled this month. However, the issue is that the commercial property industry is starting from a low compliance rate. The EPC accreditation body, National Energy Services (NES), estimates this figure to be around the 30 percent mark. We’re concerned that the message regarding compliance simply isn’t reaching the legal profession.
“Furthermore, as compliance grows, there will be a huge demand for energy assessors to meet the reduced timescale in which to provide an EPC report. It’s therefore important for conveyancing solicitors to bring this to the attention of the seller or landlord at the earliest opportunity.”
The most important changes to the regulations affect commercial properties and the reduced timescale introduced for obtaining an EPC. The revised regulations now apply to commercial properties, in addition to residential ones.
As of April 6th, there will be a requirement for sellers, landlords and persons acting on their behalf, such as property agents and conveyancing solicitors, to ensure an EPC is commissioned and in place within seven days of marketing a property. If this is not possible, but reasonable steps have been taken to obtain one, then a further period of 21 days is permitted. If, after 28 days, the property remains on the market without an EPC then Trading Standards may serve a penalty notice, even if there is a legitimate reason for delay.
The revised regulations have been introduced to provide clear guidance to those working in the legal profession and the commercial and residential property sector. They will allow prospective buyers and tenants to have sight of an EPC much earlier in the process.
The 2011 Regulations will amend the existing ‘Energy Performance of Buildings (Certificate and Inspections) (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 and take effect from April 6th 2012.
More information about the new regulations can be found on The National EPC Company website – www.nepcco.co.uk
The National EPC Company has been delivering EPCs since their inception and provides more than 8,000 per month. EPCs can be ordered and stored free of charge on its work management system, allowing access to appointment and issue tracking.