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Energy performance certificates explained: everything you need to know

There’s no denying it; a property transaction is one of life’s most stressful experiences. A study by Which? Mortgage Advisers back in 2016 found that selling a house is second in the stress list, behind only getting divorced and ahead of events like having a child, getting married and even arranging care for a relative.

One of the reasons many people find selling a home such a difficult experience is the sheer number of administrative tasks and costs involved with a sale, such as arranging an EPC and preparing a property for sale.

What is an EPC?

EPC stands for energy performance certificate. As the name suggests, it breaks down just how energy efficient the property is. The idea is that the EPC will allow buyers to make a more informed decision when considering a purchase.

Properties are given a grade based on their energy efficiency. The most efficient homes are given an A, ranging down to a G for the least efficient properties.

It’s worth noting that from April 2018, landlords need to ensure their rental properties have a rating of at least an E before they can take on a new tenant or renew a contract. This rule will apply to all existing tenancies from 2020.

What is included in an EPC?

A typical EPC will include the following:

  • An estimate for energy costs over the next three years, broken down across heat, lighting and water
  • A current energy rating and potential energy rating if certain changes are made
  • Guidance on what changes can be made to improve the energy efficiency
  • A rating out of five for the efficiency of certain features of the property, such as walls, roof and windows

Do I have to get an EPC?

Vendors are required by law to arrange an EPC for potential buyers before the property can go on the market.

If you’re selling a property in Scotland, you actually have to display the EPC somewhere in the property, such as next to the boiler.

How do I get an EPC?

EPCs are produced by ‘domestic energy assessors’.

If you are selling through an estate agent, then they will usually offer to arrange an EPC for your property. Agents generally have relationships with firms offering these services.

However, you can arrange an EPC yourself. You can find an assessor on the EPC Register, which is run on behalf of the government.

What will an EPC cost?

The cost of an EPC can vary; it can cost as little as £40 or as much as £120 plus VAT.

Factors like the location and size of the property will play a part in determining the price, while it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s usually going to be more expensive if you arrange it through an estate agent rather than directly.

On the plus side, an EPC is valid for ten years, so it’s not like you’ll need to get a new one if your property has recently been on the market.

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