AFTER a number of false starts, the new rules on Energy Performance Certificates are finally coming in to force from the 6 April…which I’m sure will have a mixed reaction from the industry.
After years of trailing behind its residential counterparts (the residential market has been more EPC savvy than the commercial world for a while), last year, the government finally announced its plans to bring commercial property agents in line with the residential market by implementing changes to the law covering EPCs. Now, after two false starts, the changes are finally coming in to force.
Under the old law, only residential agents’ details were required to have the EPC graph displayed – consequently the public have become accustomed to them. The government, in their wisdom, decided that the commercial property market wasn’t ready for this level of enforcement, despite it being far smaller than the residential market. Consequently, the requirements for EPC’s on commercial property were ‘wishy-washy’ at best, and easy to ignore at worst.
As of the 6 March, however, this all changes and will mean that sellers and landlords will have to make sure that an EPC is either available or has been commissioned before a property is marketed for sale or rent. The front rating page of the EPC certificate will also need to be attached to the details used to market the property. This is obviously good news for me as an energy assessor but it will, I hope, also make people on both sides of property transactions far more aware of the effect that the energy efficiency of properties has on business generally.
I feel that, as a profession, we have a vested interest in environmental matters. Whether or not ‘green buildings’ are capable of attracting higher values is up for debate. But one thing we can do is ensure purchasers and tenants of commercial property at least have an idea of how energy-efficient their buildings are. This is where the EPC, one of our industries’ most maligned documents, can play its part.
At a recent business lunch I attended I was discussing ‘green buildings’ with a couple of banking clients. They still have to see this having any effect upon their lending – either from a security point of view or value stand-point. What they are very aware of, though, is the long-term potential that the energy legislation may have on their security. The proposal that all F and G rated properties will become 'un-marketable' from 2018 is already on their radar. The ‘official line’ they have been told by the powers above is that the government is unlikely to miss their proposed changes in legislation.
This highlights one of my pet hates – lazy landlords and vendors. Get the easy things done to your properties in terms of ‘greening’ them before marketing. Things like low-energy lighting, insulation and replacing old, inefficient heating systems. It can make a huge difference to your EPC rating.
You have been warned!