14/05/2014 | Gary Hartley | Green strategy and politics, Energy and water efficiency at home | advertising, buying a home, energy information, Energy Performance Certificate, EPC, EPCs, estate agents, Friends of the Earth, landlords, Manchester, private-rented sector
The Government ruled not so long ago that Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) info must be made available to potential to buyers or tenants. This is not just in estate agent windows, but in media adverts too – where a home’s A-G rating will do if there’s no space for the whole colour-coded scale. But it appears there's still some work to be done to achieve this in practice.
A study from Manchester Friends of the Earth looks at information presented for prospective renters and buyers, finding that it’s not as easy to come by as it should be. Only 40 per cent of ads for rented property on market-leading website Rightmove had EPC information when studied in spring 2013. Seven months later, in January 2014, after new rules on advertising and EPCs had been set out, only a net increase of four per cent on the previous total was seen. Across homes for sale or rent, only 7 out of 241 estate agents listing properties presented EPC figures with all their listings. In traditional print media, the story was not much better, with eight out of 12 agents advertising in the local paper not providing even the A-G rating (none included the graph).
Agents’ websites presented more energy information than their shop windows, where more than half showed no EPC information at all. If this is the score in one of the UK’s major cities, it’s fairly safe to assume that it’s a reasonable meter for what is happening elsewhere. Given a property can be marketed for seven days so long as the seller or landlord is in the process of getting an EPC, there’s the potential counter-argument that Manchester Friends of the Earth were just too quick to critique.
But with so many examples falling below requirements, this is unlikely to be a watertight excuse. The problem appears to be a deeper one. A Freedom of Information request from the campaigning group 10:10 showed that while nearly all domestic property sales comply with the basic need to have an EPC these days, just over a quarter of private rentals are said to do so.
The private rental sector is one where breakthroughs on energy efficiency are needed urgently. The high street’s property intermediaries could be major agents of change for the UK’s leaky housing stock – but at present, where home running costs are concerned, some can appear more like secret agents. Whether that’s by design or circumstance, there’s room for improvement.