EPBD Recast, Redux

18/Aug/2010
Brian Scannell

There has been some industry talk this week about what the implementation of the EPBD recast will mean for estate agents and energy assessors. This is an important issue and I suspect it will have an impact much sooner than the deadline of 2012. But we need to be clear about what the legislation demands – and what we need to persuade the Government to do that goes beyond the minimum.

One of the most important elements of recast is undoubtedly the requirement to “include ratings in adverts”. This has been interpreted as meaning that first day marketing will once again become illegal and that ratings will be on For Sale and To Let boards.

I’m not sure it does – nor am I entirely convinced it is entirely desirable.

The relevant text (para 4 of Article 12 in case you’re interested) of the published version of the EPBD recast is as follows:

“Member States shall require that when:

  • buildings having an energy performance certificate,
  • building units in a building having an energy performance certificate, and
  • building units having an energy performance certificate,

are offered for sale or for rent, the energy performance indicator of the energy performance certificate of the building or the building unit, as applicable, is stated in the advertisements in commercial media.”

So in essence, if there’s an EPC, then there is a requirement to include at least a rating in “advertisements in commercial media”. There is clearly scope for interpretation of what constitutes “commercial media”, but it isn’t at all obvious to me that a For Sale or To Let board would come under that definition. I accept that one could interpret it that way, but I can’t imagine many agents would support it and I certainly won’t be holding my breath waiting for Brussels to intervene and force it through!

Personally, I think there is a case for including the rating on commercial building For Sale and To Let boards, which tend to be bespoke and to stay on a building for some time. But I’m less convinced they are justified on residential boards where the cost and environmental impact is likely to be much greater.

But more importantly, I don’t want this to become the issue that delays changes that are urgently needed to address the growing problem of non-compliance – and to improve the impact of the EPC.

The appalling level of compliance in the commercial sector is well known and we have sought to highlight the issue.

Unfortunately, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the suspension of HIPs has resulted in an increase in non-compliance with the EPC requirement for marketed sales. The well-publicised increase in listings has not translated into an increase in EPC production - rather the opposite is true and marketed sale EPC numbers have actually dropped.

This hasn’t yet resulted in any penalty notices being issued because the current “post HIP” Regulations make it fiendishly difficult – and therefore time consuming and expensive – for a Trading Standards Officer to prove wilful non-compliance.

The good news is that I believe that the recast can be implemented in a manner that achieves full compliance and ensures prospective buyers and tenants receive the information they are entitled to, whilst at the same time not imposing any delay in the marketing of a property.

I propose that the EPBD Regulations should allow agents to inform individuals who have registered an interest in properties of a specific type or in a specific area as soon as the vendor formally instructs them.

But the Regulations should require that all marketing information (on-line listings, adverts, property particulars etc) should include the rating only, or the A-G scale, or the A-G scale and key recommendations depending on space constraints. 

So small ads in the newspaper or on a webpage with multiple search results might only have the rating; larger adverts and listings might include the A-G scale; whilst full online listings and property particulars would always include the A-G rating and the key recommendations.

This approach would meet agents’ ambition for first day marketing, but would also ensure that all property-specific advertising and marketing materials would include the appropriate information from the EPC – so compliance would be extremely simple to monitor and enforce.

I believe that if the industry can support such an approach it might be possible to get this element of the EPBD recast implemented sooner rather than later – perhaps even later this calendar year. And not just for residential buildings, but for commercial ones too – where we know that compliance levels remain dire.

I’d rather have a “good enough” solution now, than fight for a perfect solution that I won’t see for another two years – if ever.

Comments

 

I agree with your interpretation on residential For Sale/To Let boards and actually don't see any benefit adding graphs to commercial boards. Plenty of chatter right now in the estate agency community about 'how terrible' it will be to have graphs on boards. Agents aren't progressive and have not embraced change. Agents only make big changes through legislation and the need to make money, they are not interested one iota in 'assisting' the change to a lower carbon economy! After all where would all the Jeremys and Tabithas of the agency world park their 3 series BMWs if their reserved parking spaces were converted to electric charging points?

We won't see a perfect solution from the recast of EPBD, lets just hope we see a solution that is simple, logical, enforceable and that is actually adhered to. I'd like to think that won't be too much to hope for. I'll put experiences of HCR/Commercial EPCs/AirCon to one side and hope the recast adds some teeth and direction to the world of energy reporting to ultimately benefit those who spend their days measuring the efficiency/condition (or otherwise) of properties!

 

Its simple... the energy rating graphs just need to be printed off and the vendor puts it in the window. Compliance is obvious... For Sale board = graphs in the window. Some properties are out of view of the road perhaps but no system is perfect.

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