Energy Performance Certificates

by Mark Johnston

Since December 2007 every home owner in England and Wales who wanted to sell a property had to have a ‘home information pack’ (HIP) which cost around £500.

The idea behind the home information pack (HIP) was that it would be ‘crammed’ full of key information on a property, so that potential buyers would know everything up front and therefore this would discourage time wasters. It should have also meant that fewer deals would fall through at a later stage.

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said “few house buyers have paid much attention to these pointless packs”.

Many estate agents believed that home information packs (HIP) ‘failed to benefit home buyers’ and also they ‘actively discouraged sellers’.

So after 10 years in the planning and only 3 years in actual operation, the ‘new’ government decided to say ‘goodbye’ to the home information packs (HIP) in May 2010.

Trevor Abrahnshon, from estate agents Glentree International, said of this news “it was always considered a daft and ill-conceived bit of legislation which took so long to conceive and implement, against all the wishes of the house buying public and agents alike”.

Housing minister, Grant Shapps, stated that “the new government wanted to waste no time in cutting away pointless red tape that was strangling the market”.

One element of the home information pack (HIP) that has remained however is the energy performance certificate, which rates the energy efficiency of a property and this was due to it being required by European law.

An energy performance certificate usually costs around £50 and is valid for 10 years. If it is nearing the end of its legal life (for example 9 years and 11 months) it will remain valid for as long as the property is continuously marketed.

The certificate is needed before home owners can legally market their property for sale for sale or rent to the public. All home owners face a fixed penalty fine of £200 if they do not provide an energy performance certificate.

A home can however be marketed with out a certificate as long as either the home owner or the estate agent has actually ordered one. The law says it must either be paid for up front or a clear commitment be made to pay for one (i.e. in writing).

The energy performance certificate carries ratings that show the measure of the energy and carbon emissions efficiency of a property by using a grading system from A to G.

With an A rating being the most efficient and a G rating is the least efficient. The average efficiency rating to date for properties is D.

All properties are now measured using the same calculations, so potential home buyers can easily compare the energy efficiency of different properties.

Energy performance certificates also provide a detailed recommendations report that shows home owners what they could do to help reduce the amount of energy used and carbon dioxide emissions. The reports contain:

–          suggested improvements

–          possible cost savings per year

–          how the recommendations would change the energy and carbon emissions rating of the property

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