Landlords and agents at risk as ‘millions of EPCs could be incorrect’

Millions of Energy Performance Certificates could be wrong due to poor training among assessors and incorrect measurements of properties

Research by property technology solution Spec warns that estate agents may not be meeting their consumer protection regulation obligations and could be held liable by allowing inaccurate EPCs to be used on their listings.

Spec analysed the property area of 532 properties in London, as lodged in the public EPC register, and found that 29% are ‘borderline’ and have a score within two points of an upgrade or downgrade.

The research then used its own measurement tools and criteria, and estimates that, on a scaled-up basis, 2.5m EPCs would be re-rated if the property were accurately measured, 1.3m of which would be downgraded.

The discrepancy is blamed on domestic energy assessors using old fashioned methods of measurement.

One in four EPCs recorded the size of a property so inaccurately that it varies by more than 10% from the true size of the property, the report found.

The majority of EPCs lodged (90%) use the reduced data standard assessment procedure which employs simple averages or standardised values rather than actual measurement of many features that are relied on to calculate the EPC score and rating, such as volume of a property.

The report also warned that as a result of these inaccuracies, many landlords could be failing to meet the minimum energy requirements that were introduced last April.

Agents are being urged to ask their assessors how many points of measurement are used in calculating areas of the property, how they measure complicated shapes and is the raw data captured by a RICS Certified Measurer or chartered surveyor?

Anthony Browne, senior advisor to Spec, said: “Our study reveals that it’s not really a case of if your EPC is measured inaccurately, but how much it is measured inaccurately.

“Inaccurate EPCs present serious challenges and risks not only to property professionals, consumers and estate agents – but also the environment.

“It means tens of thousands of landlords are unwittingly renting out their properties, opening them up to the risk of fines of thousands of pounds through no fault of their own.

“Measuring the energy efficiency of buildings accurately is essential in limiting their environmental impact and tackling the bigger global issue of climate change. If you are not measuring the problem properly, you won’t tackle it effectively.”

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15 Comments

  1. kittygirl06

    New build 2008 proof of all materials via SAP  Assessor issued EPC B.   Redone last year came in at C.  Challenged it passed on SAP Assessors workings.   Came out at a higher C. I was informed that its due to the increased cost of energy bills. Plus a calc for separating  party walls being different? There are many things incorrect about these assessments. I read a whole page on the boiler ratings the writer said the the ratings given were tested in warmer countries and that distorted the ratings for the UK. Air testing as now been added for new builds I take it this figure will be used when renewed EPC but the structural of the property could have changed. It’s pot luck out there and it will be the landlords paying the price 
    I also believe assessors are being pushed into suggesting solar panels etc but this is a maintenance issue for landlords and costly

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  2. Will2

    So who is going to check and take action?  Can any prosecution authority prove negligence against a landlord or agent when an accredited epc company has been used?  Sounds like another self interest case to me!

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    1. Woodentop

      I think you hit the nail on the head. “Could be wrong” … stated by an EPC provider with a self interest? There are so many holes in their statement, they have left out so much other information … conveniently?

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    2. Mothers Ruin

      Ridiculous! They’ll be blaming us for any problems with gas safety checks next. If you pay someone else qualified to provide a service then surely they are responsible. I suppose it might be an idea for Agents to check their providers insurance policies if they haven’t already.

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  3. Property Money Tree

    …I take the point about the environment, but otherwise I don’t see the point of this article.

    Is it a requirement that assessors be RICS certified?  I doubt it.  Must they be a chartered Surveyor?  I don’t think so.  So infer than anyone who is not either is likely to have done a poor measuring job is just tripe.

    It is a good way to get publicity, but for me, it is the wrong type as I now know that I shall never use Spec!  I see them as trying to lecture about inconsequential issues – orally, if you are unfortunate enough to turn up when they are assessing, or in writing if you wisely avoid the assessor.

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  4. DarrelKwong43

    On par with an article saying parliament cannot agree a brexit deal

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  5. jeremy1960

    No **** sherlock!

    When we first started with epcs I sent 4 assessors out to the same flat on the same day and got 4 different results. From that day I’ve only ever seen epcs as another gov box ticking exercise.

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  6. Robert May

    Anyone employing anyone to  produce an EPC can expect it to be correct. The problem, the risk, all that ‘sky is falling down’ disturbance sell stuff is a worry for Spec’s competition not the agent, not the landlord.
     
    I don’t suppose Spec’s competitors are too concerned about a visit from the EPC police.
     
    It might be an issue for people in Holland, the Fens, Canvey Island etc but I’m not sure an accurate EPC will get tenants to think about the environment on a chilly evening or get them in the habit of switching off the HDD off as well as the telly

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  7. Woodentop

    It is very difficult to get an EPC wrong. There are some exceptions (isn’t there always!).  
     
    When they first came out with the idea of EPC the UK was not prepared and Labour slipped it in the failed debacle of HIP’s. Not enough assessors and to coin the phrase “white van man & co” could do it. In the early days (10 years ago) there were some shocking cases of failures and darn right fraud EPC’s. I’ve seen them. Recorded information was basic compared with today. Assessors have to document and photograph everything to prove what they record is correct. Those assessors who are unsure have the assistance of help desk, which can even be used while they are at the property and out of normal working hours. All assessors are required to be audited every 3 months and any irregularity is required to re-issue an EPC (assessors mistake) and will trigger previous and future EPCs to be audited for compliance. There are also set “trigger points” when an assessor inputs data into the software, which automatically generates an audit of the assessors work.  
     
    In a nutshell if an EPC is inaccurate today, it is one of three things: The assessor doesn’t understand what they can see, they incorrectly input data through lack of knowledge or deliberately improve an EPC rating by increasing “spec” that isn’t there.  
     
    Putting a tape measure across a property, isn’t rocket science. The measurement is what it says on the end of the tape! 2 x 2 = 4 and 4 is what should be recorded, not 3 which as an example would potentially raise a rating while a 5 would low a rating. The bigger the area, the more energy loss and energy used to replace. If an assessor cannot visibly inspect data (e.g. rendered walls, no access to loft) there is a set and extremely simple procedure to generate an EPC with the health warning included.  
     
    I recall many years ago when B’ham City trading standards did an check they found something like 50% were inaccurate? Things have changed since then or have they? There will always be mistakes and fraudulent EPC’s but how bad is the problem. The only people who can give a true picture are the Accreditation Schemes who hold the data.

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  8. Mark Walker 2

    In the early days of EPCs, due to a clerical error, the same property had 2 EPCs done, 3 months apart, by the same assessor.  They came back with different results.  Why?  The property had changed size.  *narrator’s voice* the property hadn’t changed size.

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    1. CountryLass

      I heard the narrator as Morgan Freeman…

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  9. CountryLass

    I’m curious as to how this is the fault of me as the Agent. If I have an Energy Assessor that appears to have all the right credentials, and I have instructed the EPC, received it, paid for it and advertised it in accordance with all of the regulations, how is it my fault when the Assessor turns out to have been wrong? Knowingly using an assessor without the property certifications or one who is tweaking the figures is different, but if we have complied with all the legislation and it is the contractor who has broken the law, why should I be punished?
    If they measure the property and it’s wrong, that is their problem, not mine.

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  10. rsvstu97

    We’ve all known EPC’s are just a box tick exercise. As for the agent or LL being liable utter bollox.

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  11. Jireh Homes

    As a DEA who undertakes EPC for lease properties, concur the Landlord or Agent is not at risk should the EPC be in-accurate.  There can be differences between assessments on the same property, but generally small and unless borderline between Bands, not significant.  Floor area and room height are only one aspect of the survey and generally should be consistent, although some layouts can be a challenge to compute.  Build age if not known is estimated and will affect assumed insulation.  Window types / air gaps within the property can be different, boarded lofts restrict amount of insulation, access to HW cylinder, age CH pump and a few other factors can all affect the rating.  But again the difference should not be more than a few points.

    However, a more recent EPC for the identical property is typically lower due to changes in the RdSAP software, energy costs and Conventions.

    As a DEA my assessments are subject to regular audit by my Accreditation Body who review the computation against evidence, with an allowable tolerance on the computed SAP Rating.  Which is not to say all DEA consistently produce accurate Ratings, and any concerns should be raised with the Accreditation Body noted on the SAP report.

    As an aside, we have no influence on the recommendations, these being “auto-generated”.

     

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    1. kittygirl06

      Thanks for this the big concern for me is energy costs because they are only going one way.

      I did remove an electric fire due to this. The property was combi boiler heated.

      But 2030 C required,even with all the increased insulation will older properties be able to achieve.

      I believe we are using a third less energy than 2005 but  because the energy companies are privatised they have shareholders to please.

      So energy costs increase partly to accommodate this

      Plus to offer free insulation etc they were allowed to add to energy bills an amount to cover costs.

      I read a report that to meet government Co targets we will have to stop using gas for heating. I bel Ed Millband increased the target by another 20%.

      Electric in my home is 3times higher than my gas costs combi boiler.

       

       

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