COVID-19: What if we need an EPC?
As has been the case for many years now, obtaining a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement when selling or letting both domestic and commercial properties (subject to limited exceptions) and this requirement extends to tenants who wish to sub-let and assign an existing lease. In addition to this, it is an offence to grant, extend or renew a lease of a commercial property with an EPC rating below an E.
As it stands, a seller or lessor is required to use all reasonable efforts to obtain a valid EPC within 7 days of putting the property on the market. If this has not been possible, a further 21 days are permitted, after which enforcement action can be taken, including fines of up to £5,000.
EPC assessments are conducted onsite by an accredited assessor; something that be might prove tricky whilst the Government advice to stay at home and socially distance remains in situ. Given that it might be more important than ever for landlords and tenants alike to get transactions over the line in a timely manner, has the Government temporarily relaxed this requirement?
In short, no and a valid EPC remains a legal requirement when selling or letting. Any transaction which is not exempt risks enforcement action if it goes ahead without one.
The government advice regarding obtaining an EPC during this time is set out below, inevitably, it is geared towards domestic properties but the principles can equally be applied to commercial premises:
- EPC assessments can continue in cases where the property is vacant. This is good news for commercial premises and particularly for office occupiers, who are likely to have vacant space whilst their staff work from home.
- EPC assessments should only be conducted in accordance with government advice and where the EPC assessment can be conducted safely.
- Where a property is occupied, parties must endeavour to agree that the transaction can be delayed, so that an EPC assessment can proceed when the Government measures are lifted.
- If moving is unavoidable and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, an assessment may be conducted. In these circumstances, government guidelines on social distancing must be followed alongside the guidance for carrying out work in people’s homes.
- No assessments should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded. Even if securing an EPC is critical, the appointment should be rescheduled to when it is safe to do so in accordance with Government guidelines.
Therefore, if you are thinking of granting a lease or assigning or underletting your property:
- Remember that EPCs are valid for ten years so check if you or your Landlord already has one you can pass on.
- If you have a valid EPC but have altered your property since it was issued, keep in mind that you might need a new EPC if the works could have affected the property’s energy efficiency (something that the terms of your licence for alterations or lease might also require).
- Don’t let obtaining an EPC hold up your transaction, if you are considering letting a vacant property, think about booking in an EPC assessment as soon as possible whilst it can be done. This will avoid delays if there is a backlog of bookings once businesses can move again.
- If the property is occupied and the transaction is not critical, make sure that you prioritise an assessment as soon as social distancing measures are reduced.
- Always remember that in any event, you have 28 days from the date the property is first put on the market before facing the risk of enforcement action. Therefore, whilst you should factor in obtaining an EPC and any associated delays caused by social distancing measures, it may be that this is a sufficient amount of time – particularly if the property is vacant.
The Art Net quotes Petra Warrington on how the Charities Act will impact restitution cases
A new law will give national museums significantly more power to deaccession works and make progress on restitution cases.
Land Registry promises fully digital registration services by 2025
Swiss/UK secondments – the basics
A short guide to the key requirements to second workers from Switzerland to the UK and from the UK to Switzerland.
The Mail Online quotes David Gregory on the mini budget and changes to the real estate industry
"This is a step in the right direction, but further support for existing occupiers may be needed..."
The Financial Times quotes Paul Stone on Ofcom's probe into competition and big tech in the cloud market
"The probe may act as a catalyst for a full-blown market investigation..."
Back to the office or quietly quitting?
Quiet quitting is where employees choose to do the minimum amount of work.
Limitation & the worthwhile test
When does time start to run for deliberate concealment claims? An insight into a Court of Appeal ruling which answers this question.
Paul Stone provides comment for City AM on the record fine against Google over Android phones
"This decision is a symbolic victory”
City AM quotes Paul Stone on the lawsuit facing Google re: anticompetitive conduct in the digital advertising market
"the lawsuits are a 'mirror image' of ongoing investigations by the CMA..."
FT Ignites Europe quotes Nick Hurley on quiet quitting in the asset management industry
"I cannot see any employers embracing quiet quitting as a concept. Most companies will see it as something to reduce or eliminate"
Jonathan Morley discusses the 'huge growth' in Gloucestershire driven by private capital for SoGlos
"Private investors are watching Gloucestershire closely and willing to invest in its businesses..."
Piers Master and Jack Carter write for International Adviser on the register of overseas entities
How UK register of overseas entities impacts advice clients
The Grocer quotes Jamie Cartwright on the Celia Marsh inquest and allergen action
“Natasha’s Law responded to a perceived lack of accessible information on ingredients for consumers on the product itself..."
Ten Years Since The 2012 Saudi Arbitration Law: Where Are We Now?
London’s role in the growing UK Life Sciences sector
Mark Kildea, Howard de Walden’s Chief Executive and Cara Imrailo discuss Life Sciences opportunities in London
Property Patter: The Notorious ESG?
ESG is everywhere.
Lesley O'Leary writes for The Law Society Gazette on law firm strategy
‘You need to have a frank discussion about the things that matter to clients’
Melanie Tomlin explains the measure of damages recoverable in defects claims for Building Magazine
Essential law: Defects, part four
The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme
The aim of the scheme is to help organisations identify energy efficiency savings, to support and increase good energy management.
Aidan Welton writes for P3 Pharmacy on property considerations before selling a pharmacy business
There’s lots to consider ahead of time if you’re planning the sale of your pharmacy business...