Energy Performance Certificates Frequently Asked Questions

Further information on Energy Performance Certificates are available through this list of questions and answers.

Who is responsible for obtaining an EPC?

For buildings that are to be marketed for sale or rent, the building's owner or prospective landlord is reponsible for obtaining an EPC.

For newly constructed buildings it is the responsibility of the builder to provide an EPC to the person who commissioned the construction of the building, within 5 days of completion.

An EPC must be obtained before a building is marketed for sale or rent.

Where an agent has been engaged to sell or to rent out a building, they must include the energy performance indicator from the EPC in all commercial media/marketing material produced for that building. If an owner or landlord is selling or renting out a property on his own behalf, he is responsible for including the indicator on such material. Commercial media includes written particulars, brochures, property websites etc. Advertising boards outside properties would not be considered commercial media.

Are there any penalties for not making an EPC available?

Yes. The Department of Finance (DoF) and district councils have the duty to enforce the requirements of the EPC regulations. District councils enforce in relation to all but their own relevant public buildings in which case DoF is the enforcement authority.

Failure to comply with the regulations or a request to produce relevant documents from an enforcer may result in the issue of a penalty charge notice.

In the case of a dwelling, the penalty is £200 and for non-dwellings it is 12.5% of the net annual value, for each breach of failing to:

  • make available, free of charge, a valid EPC to any prospective buyer or tenant
  • give, free of charge, a valid EPC to the person who ultimately becomes the buyer or tenant
  • give an EPC to the owner of the building not more than five days after the work has been completed
  • make available or give, free of charge, a recommendation report to accompany a valid EPC

How can I find an energy assessor?

The Northern Ireland Energy Performance Certificate Registers include a search facility to enable you to find an accredited energy assessor in your area.

Where can I get information on technical aspects of an EPC and the data shown on my certificate?

Technical questions and answers are covered on the Northern Ireland EPC register.

How can I become an energy assessor?

For more information on becoming an assessor including details of available training courses and approved qualifications please see the page on Energy Assessors and Accreditation Schemes.

How much will an EPC cost?

The price of an energy performance certificate is determined by the market. Costs will vary according to the size, type and location of the property.

How long will it take to perform an energy assessment?

The time taken to perform an energy assessment will vary according to the size and nature of the property. This is particularly true of commercial buildings where the wide variations in size etc renders any definition of 'average time' not very meaningful. However, it has been estimated that an average 3 bedroom semi-detached house would take just under two hours to complete.

Will an energy assessor have to visit the property?

For existing domestic properties, the accredited energy assessor must base the assessment on a visit. Where an assessment is based on the assessment of another representative apartment or unit, the accredited energy assessor will need to visit a sample of the apartments or units to verify that they are indeed representative.

In other cases the assessor must visit the property if s/he has any concerns about the data and should expect to do so unless there is good reason not to. You may check your assessors credentials on the Northern Ireland EPC register website before letting them into your home.

What happens if my home gets a low rating?

This simply indicates the building could be more energy efficient. During the inspection a number of recommendations to improve its energy efficiency will be identified (in the recommendation report which should accompany the EPC). Implementation of these could not only increase your rating and reduce carbon emissions, but also save money on energy bills. However, it is up to you whether you implement the recommendations or not; the Regulations do not impose a legal duty on you to do so.

What are the benefits to me as a seller or landlord?

A higher energy rating should make a building more marketable than one with a lower rating as a more energy efficient building is less costly to run. The recommendation report should provide information that may help to reduce the running cost of the property even further.

As a seller or landlord do I need a new EPC every time I sell or rent to a prospective buyer or tenant?

No. An EPC is valid for 10 years and can be used multiple times during this period. The EPC will expire after 10 years and a new EPC (valid for the next 10 years) should be produced if the property is marketed for sale or rent at that time.

Is an EPC required where a tenant reassigns a lease to a third party?

Yes. It is the responsibility of the seller or landlord offering the accommodation for sale or let to make an EPC available for their building. A lease assignment would be considered to be a sale and the assignor should provide an EPC. The legal view is that it is the tenant, and not the landlord, who is selling their interest in the lease. The tenant effectively bought an interest in the lease when they took on the lease, and through the assignment, they are now selling their interest on.

Do existing dwellings in multiple occupancy, such as a house with bedsits, require an EPC for each room or bedsit?

This will depend on the type of tenancy that has been granted.

Joint and several

If you grant a joint and several tenancy where all the tenants are on one agreement, then this is, in legal terms, no different to letting a normal dwelling to a single family. Therefore, one EPC will be required for the whole dwelling.

Individual let rooms

Where individual rooms in a building are rented out on separate tenancies and there are shared facilities (e.g. kitchen and/or bathroom), an EPC is not required. An EPC is only required for a dwelling that is self-contained, meaning that it does not share essential facilities such as a bathroom/shower room, wc or kitchen with any other dwelling, and that it has its own entrance. This is because an EPC is only required on the rental of a building or part of a building ‘designed or altered to be used separately’. Renting a room does not meet the ‘part of a building’ definition. Put simply, an EPC is only required for a habitable unit if it is self-contained.

Example 1

A house or flat is rented by a number of tenants who have exclusive use of their bedrooms but share a kitchen and bathroom. In this case each tenant has a contract with the landlord for the parts they have access to, but not for the whole dwelling. An EPC is therefore not required each time a tenant moves, although one will be required for the whole house if it is sold or rented as a whole.

Example 2

A group of friends want to rent a property and there will be a single contract between the landlord and the group for the rental of the whole dwelling (ie it is a joint and several tenancy). An EPC is required for the whole dwelling.

Example 3

Individual tenants rent rooms in a hall of residence. Each room does not constitute a building or part of a building designed to be used separately. An EPC is not required, for each individual room. However, an EPC will be required on the whole building if it is sold or rented. It will also be required on self-contained units within the hall, for example, a self-contained caretaker’s flat, if this is sold or rented.

Certificates must be produced by an accredited energy assessor, but does this mean that a team can gather the data?

For existing domestic properties, the accredited energy assessor must base the assessment on a visit. Where an assessment is based on the assessment of another representative apartment or unit, the accredited energy assessor will need to visit a sample of the apartments or units to verify that they are indeed representative. For new build properties the assessor must visit the property if s/he has any concerns about the data and should expect to do so unless there is good reason not to.

While a team of people can work on gathering the information for a non-domestic energy assessment, they must work under the direction of an accredited energy assessor, and the accredited energy assessor must visit the property to confirm the data before signing it off. Only accredited energy assessors can produce and register certificates.

When is an EPC not required?

You will not be required to produce an EPC if:

  • you are not selling or renting your property
  • you are selling your property and have reasonable grounds to believe that the buyer intends to demolish it on purchase.

If you are constructing a building and have notified Building Control of its completion before 30th September 2008, you will not be required to provide them with a copy of an EPC. However you will still be required to provide an EPC to the prospective buyer or tenant.

Rooms for residential purposes such as a room in a hostel, an hotel, a boarding house, a hall of residence etc are not classified as a dwelling and so are excluded from the requirement to provide an EPC on sale or rental. This is because a room for residential purposes is not self contained. However, the building may need a DEC if it meets the necessary criteria and would require an EPC if sold or rented out in its entirety.

The following buildings are exempt and therefore do not require an EPC:

  • buildings used as places of worship and for religious activities,
  • stand-alone buildings of less than 50 m2 that are not dwellings,
  • industrial sites, workshops and non-residential agricultural buildings with low energy demand,
  • temporary buildings with a planned time of use of 2 years or less, and
  • non-residential agricultural buildings which are in use by a sector covered by a national sectoral agreement on energy performance.

Why does my house have a potential energy rating higher that its current energy rating?

The current energy rating given on the EPC is based on the features of the house was built and any subsequent energy efficiency improvements undertaken eg, additonal insulation. The accompanying recommendation report lists any additional cost effective measures that assessor has identified to further improve the energy efficiency of the house. By carrying out these additional cost effective measures you can achieve your potential energy rating.

Why is the energy rating for my newly built house lower than the typical new build rating shown as a benchmark on the EPC?

Builders tend to get approval for a large number of dwellings on a development and to build them over a number of years. In the meantime, the building regulations thermal requirements may have been improved but the builder is still legally entitled to build to the previous regulations' standards. This means that the new home you buy may not include the latest provisions for the conservation of fuel and power. The EPC shows a benchmark rating for a 'Typical new build'. If the EPC rating for your new home is lower than this figure it is not built to the current building regulations' standards.

Does each apartment or flat need a separately generated EPC?

The definition of a building in the EPC regulations states that "a reference to a building includes a reference to a part of a building which has been designed or altered to be used separately". Consequently, even though a building is divided into parts (or units), where the building could only be marketed and sold as a single building, then only one EPC will be required. If, however, parts (or units) of the same building are being sold separately, then separate EPCs would be necessary. The critical factor is whether or not each part (or unit) of a building has a separate or common heating system.

Separate heating systems

In this instance, an EPC must be produced for each part (or unit) based on that part’s (or unit's) energy use; however, provided the parts are identical, this may be based on the assessment of a representative part (or unit) in the same block. Thus, in the case of a building containing several parts (or units) but with, say, four different designs types, then, everything else being equal, 4 EPCs would be required for that building.

Common heating systems

For parts (or units) with a common heating system, an EPC must still be produced for each part (or unit), but it may be based on a common certification of the entire building as a whole.

Example 1: care homes

A care home will need an EPC only on construction, sale or rental as a whole building. (The whole building EPC would be based on SBEM, the method for assessing non-dwellings).

There will normally be no requirement for each resident to obtain an EPC. The home’s accommodation which is provided with attendant services but without a right of exclusive possession of any part of the building would not usually constitute a letting in respect of which an EPC should be made available. Residency of care homes, student accommodation blocks (see example 3 below), hotel rooms and prisons are likely to fall into this category.

Example 2: sheltered housing

Sheltered housing, by contrast, frequently contains self-contained apartments, either let or owned, with common rooms also provided for social and recreational purposes, with use of them also governed by the terms of the lease of the individual accommodation. In this circumstance an EPC would be required for each self-contained apartment when rented or sold.

Example 3: shared or communal areas that accompany parts (or units) with separate heating systems

Where a building has parts (or units) with separate heating systems and a common space, the seller or landlord will be required to provide an EPC for the whole building only if it is being sold or let as a whole. Otherwise the seller or landlord will be required to provide an EPC for each part (or unit) being sold or let plus an additional EPC for the common space. The prospective buyer or tenant can then make their decision on the basis of the energy rating for the part (or unit) and the energy rating for the common space that serves that part (or unit).

Is an EPC required for buildings which are sold or rented out as shell or core buildings (ie without services)?

For shell and core buildings, such as commercial retail/warehouse units, not all the services will be installed (especially lighting, mechanical ventilation and cooling) at the point where the building is sold or rented out. However, where they will be fitted out and there is an expectation that energy will be used to condition the indoor climate, an EPC should be provided by the builder.

The EPC should be based on the maximum design fit-out specification as used for compliance with Part F of the Building Regulations. (Part F ensures that building work conforms to energy performance standards). Where insufficient information is available (for example, no services have actually been installed), Part F defaults to the 'worst' energy rating allowed under Part F. Therefore the most energy intensive fixed services fit out allowed under Part F will be assumed for the purposes of the EPC.

Any subsequent fit out will, of course, need to comply with Part F of the Building Regulations. Should the owner or tenant choose a more energy efficient specification than that assumed at the point of sale or rent, a subsequent EPC may be requested by the owner or tenant to reflect the actual energy rating of the building. However, there is no legal duty to do so.

Do buildings which have been extended or modified require an EPC?

Where construction work is undertaken to a building and the modifications

  • change the number of parts designed or altered for separate use and
  • include the provision or extension of any fixed services for heating, hot water, air-conditioning and mechanical ventilation

An EPC must be given to the owner of the building by the person responsible for having the construction work carried out (ie the builder). A copy of the EPC must be given to Building Control not more than five days after the work has been completed.

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