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The importance of energy performance certificates for tenants

energy efficiencyHere is a question to the blog clinic from Andrew (not his real name) who is a tenant

I am a tenant of a property which I think may have been missold.

I moved in last October and immediately had problems, I had to keep the heating on virtually all the time otherwise the temperature dropped to uncomfortable levels – I work from home so I am in the house most of the time.

I also discovered that several windows were single glazed and there was no door between the kitchen and the rear porch so heat just poured out.

A friend of mine asked me if he could see the property energy performance certificate but I had no idea what he was talking about so I asked the agent. The agent initially said there wasn’t one but then sent me a copy and I discovered the house has a score of 12 which is exceptionally poor.

I am certain I was never shown this or provided a copy by the agent as if I had seen it I would have not taken the property. I have spent around £1,000 on heating bills since I moved in. Should the agent have told me about the low rating and can I claim compensation?

This question just goes to show how important it is to see the Energy Performance Certificate  before you sign up for a tenancy.  It can have a major impact on your bills – as Andrew has found out to his cost.

However Andrew, I think it is unlikely that you will  be able to claim any compensation.  Failure to provide an Energy Performance Certificate falls under the criminal law – the Local Authority can impose a £200 fine on your landlord but so far as I am aware, this does not entitle you to claim anything.

A tenant’s main route to compensation is be via the landlords statutory repairing covenants as set out in s11 of the Landlord & Tenant Act 1985 – but only if your landlord has breached them.

However from what you say, there does not appear to be any actual disrepair.  Section 11 cannot help you if you want the property improved – for example you have no right to request double glazing if this is not already provided.

So although you can report the landlord and his agent to your Local Authority Trading Standards Office, so he gets his knuckles wrapped for failing to provide an Energy Performance Certificate – I can’t see that this will bring you any actual compensation.

Unless anyone else has any ideas?

Tenants reading this – learn from this and always ask to see the EPC when you are renting a property.  The energy efficiency rating can seriously affect the heating bills you will have to pay.  You should be provided with a copy with the property information or at the latest, before you sign the tenancy agreement.

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5 Responses to The importance of energy performance certificates for tenants

  1. Would the AST be deem to be a unfair contract as the EPC was not provided before the tenant signed it, and therefore the tenant be able to leave without any penalties?

  2. Nice thought, but no I can’t see that this would work.

    The only time, to my knowledge, the tenant can leave without penalties is under the common law rule, right at the start of the tenancy, if the property is furnished and not fit for human habitation.

  3. Not everyone is aware that “listed” buildings and the flats contained therin are exempt from EPCs. The EU never intended that “listed” buildings would be included. However our Government did so anyway and have now had to alter the regualtions!

    Geoffrey Lee

  4. Was it honestly unexpected? Did you really need an EPC to tell you that such a building is not going to be very efficient? With rising energy costs did you not consider these factors when you viewed the property? No double glazing? Hmmmm, it might be noisy and expensive to heat….

    Where an EPC could be useful, e.g. in telling you about the stuff you can’t see, it is mainly based on assumptions anyway. EPC assessors do not have to be very highly trained and anyone should be able to pick up on most of things in the EPC during a viewing. It has night storage heaters or no energy-efficient bulbs? Wow, what a revelation!

    Landlords and agents should of course obey the law, but EPCs in their current format are a waste of time.

  5. Tessa
    Just a thought but the fine would not be £200 it would be £200 EVERY DAY FOR WHICH THE OFFENCE CONTINUED.

    Normally this relates to advertising offences etc, but if it applies to failure to issue the certificate then this Landlord is looking at roughly 270 days or £54,000.

    If it was me I’d offer not to report the offence which has been committed and continues (there is no written proof the EPC had been seen by or eventually issued to the tenant) provided I was immediately released from the tenancy and also had all my heating etc bills reimbursed during occupancy.



About the post author:

Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is a lawyer and specialises in creating products and services which help landlords and letting agents learn and understand landlord & tenant law. For example, she runs the Landlord Law website (now in its 14th year) and is a director of Easy Law Training Ltd and Your Law Store. Tessa also sits on the Property Redress Scheme Council. When not working she enjoys reading, cooking and messing around on the computer. You can also find her on Google

The Landlord Law Blog from Tessa Shepperson

Tessa is an English lawyer specialising in residential landlord and tenant law.

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