In a newsletter of 19 October 2017, the Dutch Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) announced that in 2016, twenty-three owners of utility buildings were fined for selling buildings without the mandatory energy label. The steepest fine was more than EUR 10,000.

Utility buildings are buildings that are not intended for residential occupation. An energy label allows a buyer to see how energy-efficient a building is and where possibilities exist for improvement. On the basis of the Dutch Housing Act (Woningwet), the maximum fine that can be imposed on businesses per building is EUR 20,250 euro and EUR 410 on private individuals.

In the spring of 2016, the ILT announced that inspections would be taking place. The ILT scrutinised the sales in July and August 2016. Consequently, the sales up until now have been checked only regarding a limited number of months. Furthermore, the inspections have not yet focused on lease, but an energy label is mandatory as stated above also in the case of lease.

According to the Dutch Energy Performance (Buildings) Decree (Besluit energieprestatie gebouwen), which is an elaboration of the European Energy Performance of Buildings Directive, buildings must have a valid energy label upon delivery, sale and lease. For this purpose, the owner must engage a certified agency to draw up an energy label for a utility building. The existence of an energy label for a building (or residence) can be checked by going to https://www.ep-online.nl/ep-online/. By entering the post code and house number, or the object ID in accordance with the Dutch Addresses and Buildings Databases Act (BAG), the energy label for an object can easily be discovered. At least if an energy label is available! In many cases, it turns out that no energy label yet exists.

In a letter of 28 November 2016, Minister Stef Blok announced that as of 1 January 2023, he wished to make it mandatory for offices to have at least a C label. This obligation will apply to buildings that have an office function in accordance with the Addresses and Buildings Databases Act with a lower limit of 100 m². Monuments will be exempt for the time being. To introduce that obligation, an amendment of the Dutch Buildings Decree 2012 (Bouwbesluit 2012) will be required. On the surface, it now looks as if a building can no longer be used as an office from that date if it does not meet this requirement. It is important for lessors and lessees to anticipate this change by establishing in good time whether there is an energy label, what the level of that label is and – if it is worse than a value corresponding to C – to determine what is required to obtain the correct energy label on time. Once it is known what is needed from a technical or structural point of view to obtain a C label – or even better an A label, as this will probably be mandatory in 2030 – the party responsible can be stipulated in the lease.

A proposal to amend the Buildings Decree 2012, in which the change will be laid down, was posted on the Internet for consultation purposes and is expected to be debated in the Dutch House of Representatives before the end of the year.

According to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), approximately 80% of office buildings do not yet meet the intended standard of energy label C for 2023. They are either energy-inefficient or do not yet have an energy label.

In other words, a great deal of work still needs to be done to obtain the standard before 2023.