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Blog: Energy running costs – Are tenants getting the information they need?

It is one year since the revised Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations came into force. The Regulations were to ensure that home buyers and prospective tenants had energy performance information of homes available to them at the point of advertising.

To mark the anniversary, we at Future Climate took a casual stroll around the estate agents of South East London to see how these Regulations were being implemented.

We found a mixture of confusion, over-compliance and total non-compliance. Kinleigh Folkard and Hayward, a large and prominent chain of London estate agents, didn’t see fit to display any energy performance information of homes in their display.

One local estate agent was displaying energy performance information alongside environmental impact ratings on their homes for sale. Environmental impact ratings were downgraded in prominence on EPCs last year due to the confusion they caused amongst homebuyers and tenants. Displaying both graphs on property advertisements seems likely to confuse rather than enlighten and inform homebuyers, and are certainly not required on property advertisements.

But by far the most disappointing was the absence of energy performance ratings on any of the homes for rent – in any of the estate agents’ windows we visited!

Just as a reminder, the EPBD Regulations read: “the asset rating of the building expressed in the Energy Performance Certificate must be stated in any advertisement of the sale or rental in commercial media”. “Commercial media” is widely understood to cover estate agents’ window advertisements, with a fixed notice penalty of £200 per dwelling. The only reason an estate agent could have for failing to include the energy performance rating in their advertisements is where an EPC is in the process of being produced, which should not take longer than two weeks.

Yet 12 months on, based on our unrepresentative survey, we’re still seeing very limited compliance with these requirements. It is extremely disappointing that we have seen a lower level of compliance in the rented sector, particularly when tenants have limited scope to make energy saving improvements to their home. And from previous research, we know that the energy running costs of a home are a material consideration for prospective tenants.

Private tenants have a right to know the energy running costs of a home they are considering renting, and landlords and estate agents need to comply with their legal obligations to make this information available upfront, not just at the point at which a tenancy agreement is being signed!