EPC Regulations and the Changes that Affect Scottish Property Owners
You can hardly blame Scottish property owners for shuddering at the very mention of “energy efficiency”.
When once all they had to concern themselves with was defect reparation and, if renting, the happiness of their tenants, these days many are lost in a whirlwind of uncertainty, powered by ever-changing energy legislation and confusing green technologies that often promise considerably more than they deliver. It’s a challenging time.
While in England and Wales, it will become unlawful to rent out residential or business premises that do not achieve a minimum EPC rating of ‘E’ by April 2018, the Scottish Government has the power to introduce its own laws by 2015 and given its significant focus on leading Europe in terms of carbon reduction, there’s every chance these could be even stricter.
Rather than burying heads in sand, Scotland’s property owners need to familiarise themselves as soon as possible with what is expected of them and that starts with recent substantial changes to the country’s EPC system.
These developments very much hint towards a tightening up of legislation which has too often been ignored, or at very least not prioritised, by owners of Scotland’s commercial and domestic properties.
With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at some of the main changes and assess exactly what these means for your buildings.
In the past, when selling or renting a property, the owner was required to make a copy of a valid energy performance certificate (EPC) available without cost to the prospective buyer or tenant. Rather than encouraging early assessment, this often resulted in EPCs being acquired at the last minute, regularly after a deal had been concluded. This practice should be a thing of the past now that owners are obliged to include the EPC indicator in any advertisement in commercial media. This includes advertisements in newspapers or magazines, an advertisement transmitted electronically or any advertisement by way of written particulars of a building or building unit.
Public authority buildings
While buildings over 1000 square metres occupied by public authorities have always required EPCs, these rules were tightened in the recent amendment. Now all buildings over 500 square metres must have an EPC and this will reduce to 250 square metres from 9th July 2015.
Displaying the certificate
As we blogged about recently, one third of UK local authorities were shown to be in breach of energy regulations by failing to publically display EPC information. In Scotland, the definition of a public building has changed to “a building which is frequently visited by the public” and has a floor size of 500 square metres. This is a huge change as it means that any frequently used building, be it a bank, supermarket or shopping centre, is required to make any EPC information they have publically available.
Inclusion of recommendations
It’s no longer simply enough to provide an EPC certificate when selling property in Scotland. From October last year, all EPCs must come with a recommendation report which includes more detailed information on the cost effectiveness of the recommendations made in the EPC. It must also breakdown the steps that need to be taken to implement such recommendations. This is unquestionably one of the reasons infrared thermography has been used with increasing regularity to assess a property’s true energy efficiency. Not only do IRT Surveys’ thermal images visually reveal all problem areas in a building but our patented Envision software quantifies this energy loss in monetary terms. By using your results in our interactive carbon dashboard, you can experiment in real time with changes to the building fabric to establish the best refurbishment program for your budget. Furthermore, our detailed reports come with recommendations and breaks down the exact monetary savings over time.
Renewing a lease
While owners must provide new buyers or tenants with an EPC certificate when a non-domestic building is being sold or rented, an EPC is not required for lease renewals by existing tenants.