Last month saw the introduction of some tidying up regulations for the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) regime. In the wake of this the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has published a new guide for local authorities which have to enforce the law on EPCs. Whilst aimed at local authorities, the guide is of interest to anyone who is selling, letting or managing buildings.

Anyone who advises landowners on this topic, knows there are grey areas where it is not clear whether you need to provide an EPC. You can always get one to be on the safe side. However, do you want to spend the money when there is an arguable case that your transaction is one which does not require an EPC?

Clients faced with this situation, will often ask “what would happen if I don’t supply an EPC and the local authority want to enforce against me?” The new DCLG guide to local authorities on enforcement is a useful document to have handy when answering this question. It contains a brief summary of the regime introduced by the EPC regulations. In addition to EPCs, these regulations cover: Display Energy Certificates relevant to public sector occupiers of buildings frequently visited by the public; and mandatory inspections of air-conditioning systems.

The guidance has two tables for quick reference. The first one has a brief summary of the various duties together with the person who has the responsibility for complying. The second table lists the penalties for non-compliance.

One point which the guidance omits is the deadline in regulation 36: the local authority cannot serve a notice of a penalty charge more than six months after the breach of the duty occurred.

This is a useful guide but it is yet another document to add to paperwork which EPCs have generated. No doubt the idea behind the EPCs was to act as a spur to improving energy efficiency of buildings. But I am left wondering whether they have had this effect or have they just added a new level of bureaucracy and paperwork to the conveyancing process.