Changes in the law mean that landlords must ensure privately rented homes have an EPC rating of at least E. But what is an EPC, what do the ratings mean, and does it apply to all tenancies? To help you get to grips with your landlord obligations, here’s what you should know.
What is an EPC?
EPC stands for energy performance certificate. They show how energy efficient properties are by rating them from A (the most energy efficient) to G (the least efficient).
Unsurprisingly, new homes tend to be more energy efficient which means they cost less to run compared to older buildings. The average rating for homes in the UK is D – highlighting there’s lots of room for improvement.
Why do we need EPCs?
EPCs are now an essential part of the housing market regardless of whether you’re a homeowner, landlord or tenant. Across the UK, they’re needed when you market your property for let. In Scotland, they should also be clearly displayed within the building itself (for example near the boiler).
Based on the rating your property is given, EPC certificates estimate current energy costs and compare them to what they could be if the property were made more energy efficient.
EPCs also provide information on how to make your home more energy efficient and along with how much those changes might cost. This information can help homeowners, landlords and tenants save money on bills and reduce the impact of energy use on the environment.
Do landlords need EPC certificates by law?
Yes, since April 2020, privately rented properties must achieve at least an E rating on their EPC certificate. This applies even if there hasn’t been a change in tenancy.
Currently, if you’re a landlord and rent commercial property, you only need to reach an E rating when granting a new tenancy (whether renewing or renting to new tenants). However, that will change in April 2023 when you’ll need to comply with the same rules for privately rented homes. From then, you’ll need to make sure buildings meet the minimum E rating no matter whether you have new tenants or not.
The EPC regulations are part of the government’s Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES). The aim is to encourage landlords to increase energy efficiency and reduce the burden of costly utilities on tenants.
How long does an EPC last?
EPC certificates are valid for ten years and can be used as many times as you need during that period.
If you make any energy efficiency changes – for example, add insulation or install double glazing, you can arrange to have your EPC updated to reflect those improvements.
How do I get an EPC?
When your EPC expires, an accredited assessor will need to visit your property to evaluate its energy use, identify improvements and calculate savings before issuing a new EPC.
You can apply for an EPC online:
- For England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, visit UK, Getting a new energy certificate
- For Scotland, visit Energy Saving Trust, Search for an assessor or advisor
All EPCs are available to view online so you can check whether your property already has one at GOV.UK, Find an energy certificate (for England, Wales, and Northern Ireland). Landlords and home owners in Scotland should head to Energy Saving Trust, where you can search for an EPC using a postcode or the report reference number (RRN).
How much does an EPC cost?
Prices vary and can range from anything between £60 to £120 so it’s a good idea to compare quotes first.
If you manage your rental via a letting agent, they can organise an EPC for you, but this is likely to cost you more compared to finding an assessor yourself.
When is an EPC not required?
Some buildings don’t need an EPC certificate including industrial and non-residential agricultural buildings.
Listed buildings and buildings within conservation areas are also exempt from EPC certificates but there are conditions attached to this:
For listed buildings that already have an EPC
If your listed property had an EPC issued before 2013 (when the exemption came into effect) you’ll need to ensure it meets the minimum E rating before it is rented. Any changes made should be in line with its listed status and have minimal impact on the character or appearance of the property.
For listed buildings without an EPC
If your listed property doesn’t have an EPC, you don’t need to have one in order to rent it out, but the exemption only applies if energy efficiency improvements would harm the character of the building. This now also applies to properties within conservation areas. For many landlords, this can be a tricky scenario, after all, the only way to discover what improvements are needed, is to have an EPC assessment.
To navigate this, you can request a draft EPC and decide whether or not any recommendations are feasible. If you’re keen to improve the efficiency of your listed property without affecting its character, your local council’s conservation team should be able to guide you.
Are there penalties for not having an EPC?
Yes, if you don’t have an EPC when you advertise your property to let, you can be fined £200.
How to improve an EPC rating
If your certificate is near expiry or you’ve never had one done, there are inexpensive and practical steps you can take to improve your rating – here’s how to prepare for an EPC:
- Switch to energy efficient bulbs – this is one of the quickest and cheapest ways to cut energy costs.
- Draught proof windows and doors – this can easily be done by sealing joints, adding draught excluder tape to preserve heat.
- Add or increase insulation – another relatively cheap way to increase EPC ratings is to top up or install loft insulation. You’ll need a recommended thickness of at least 270mm to make a difference.
Longer term and pricier solutions can of course have the greatest impact. For ideas on what to add to your future EPC checklist, consider cavity wall insulation, double glazing, and upgrading to a newer, more efficient boiler.
Navigating landlord responsibilities
With frequent changes to regulations, navigating landlord obligations can be tough. To find out more about the rules that aim to protect both you and your tenants, head to our guide to landlord responsibilities.
We can also help safeguard your property investment with our award-winning insurance services. For details of our five star rated products, visit our landlords insurance hub, or speak to an expert member of the team on 01603 216399.