Complying with the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 and MEES can seem more than a little daunting. However, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have simplified the process into a single flow chart to help. Combined with expert advice and support, this chart will help guide landlords through the process required to comply with the regulations.
All exemptions claimed by landlords to improving domestic properties with an EPC rating at F or G must be registered on the PRS Exemptions Register. This is an online process and does not cost anything to complete but you will need to have the correct supporting evidence available when you make your application. In addition to registering exemptions, you can also search for details of exemptions that have already been registered.
To access the PRS Exemption Register visit https://prsregister.beis.gov.uk/
It is very important that you recognise that a single property may be subject to a number of different exemptions that apply to different improvements. An exemption from one improvement does not exempt a landlord from making other relevant improvements.
Additionally, you will need to ensure that you have completed the correct processes and gathered sufficient evidence before registering an exemption. There are significant penalties for registering a false exemption on the PRS Exemptions Register.
The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have issued the guidance below regarding the minimum evidence required to support each type of exemption.
|Exemptions Register Information Requirements|
|Information required for all exemptions:|
|Additional Information and Evidence Related to Each Specific Exemption|
|Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(b) exception – where a recommended measure is not a “relevant energy efficiency improvement” because the cost of purchasing and installing it cannot be wholly financed at no cost to the landlord (see Regulation 24(3)):|
Please Note: The Government has decided to replace this exemption with a cost cap of £3500 inc VAT. An implementation date for this is yet to be confirmed by Parliament.
|Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(a) exception – where all relevant improvements have been made and the property remains below an E:|
|Registering an exemption under the regulation 25(1)(b) exception – where the property is below an E and there are no relevant improvements which can be made:|
|Registering a wall insulation exemption under regulation 24(2):|
|Registering a consent exemption under regulation 31(1):|
Please Note: Where the party who withheld consent was a tenant, the exemption will only remain valid until that tenant’s tenancy ends. When that tenant leaves the property (or after five years, whichever is soonest) the landlord will need to try again to improve the EPC rating of the property, or register another exemption, if applicable.
|Registering a devaluation exemption under regulation 32(1):|
|Registering an exemption upon recently becoming a landlord (regulation 33(1) or (3)):|
Please Note: Where a person wishes to register an exemption upon recently becoming a landlord, the exemption will last for a period of six months.
This statement is made pursuant to s.54 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and sets out the steps that Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited has taken and is continuing to take to ensure that modern slavery or human trafficking is not taking place within our business or supply chain.
The policy’s purpose is to:
Prevent modern slavery in all its forms.
Ensure compliance with the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for both ourselves and those that use our services.
Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, human trafficking and forced labour. Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited has a zero tolerance approach to any form of modern slavery. We are committed to acting ethically and with integrity and transparency in all business dealings and to putting effective systems and controls in place to safeguard against any form of modern slavery taking place within the business or our supply chain.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited provides energy efficiency assessments, consultancy and related services throughout the UK. These activities are carried out using a combination of our own employees and carefully selected sub-contractors.
Our high risk areas
The vast majority of our work is conducted by staff directly employed by us and all of our work is conducted within the UK minimising our exposure to modern slavery practices. More vulnerable areas of our business include:
Use of sub-contractors: We ensure that our sub-contractors are registered with a government approved Accreditation Scheme (Approved Organisation in Scotland) for the area of work which they are conducting on our behalf. Proof of entitlement to work in the UK is a mandatory part of the registration process. Additionally, we do not use employment agencies, gangmasters or assessment panels to recruit workers or sub-contractors.
Supplier purchases: Our business does not involve the processing of materials and so our purchasing is limited to operational services and supplies, the majority of which are of low value and sourced within the UK. Suppliers of high value purchases are actively screened (see below) while all staff engaged in making purchases on behalf of the company have received Modern Slavery awareness training.
We operate a number of internal policies and procedures to ensure that we are conducting business in an ethical and transparent manner. These include:
The measures established in this Modern Slavery Statement.
Our Anti-Bribery Statement (FC17M01) which clearly establishes the organisation’s stance and expectations relating to bribery and questionable incentive practices.
Our policy Health & Safety at Work (HS16G01) which clearly establishes the organisation’s stance and expectations relating to the health, safety and welfare of our workers and other affected by our work.
Our policy Equality & Diversity (PE16D01) which clearly establishes the organisation’s stance and expectations relating to equal opportunities and challenging discrimination.
Robust recruitment practices, including conducting eligibility to work in the UK checks for all employees to safeguard against human trafficking or individuals being forced to work against their will.
Positive employment practices including ensuring all our employees have written contracts of employment and paying all our employees at least the National Minimum Wage. Additionally, we actively support the personal development of our staff, including providing opportunities for them to further their personal economic prospects by obtaining nationally recognised and professional qualifications.
Corporate openness within our family run business. We operate in a manner where all employees know that they can raise concerns about how colleagues are being treated, or practices within our business or supply chain, without fear of reprisals.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited maintains a list of preferred suppliers and sub-contractors. We conduct due diligence on all suppliers before allowing them to become a preferred supplier or sub-contractor.
Screening for sub-contractors: We only sub-contract to our preferred sub-contractors. In selecting preferred subcontractors we routinely:
Check the National Register to ensure a current accreditation exists for the services being offered;
Check trading details (e.g. sole trader / registered company) and cross reference these with independent sources (e.g. Companies House);
Review websites, social media pages, reviews and other online sources;
Refer to prior knowledge and experience of our staff, clients and other suppliers; and
Monitor assessments produced to ensure that the work is not further sub-contracted.
Screening for high value preferred suppliers: We consider high value suppliers to be those supplying goods and/or services in excess of £1000 in any three month period. As part of our contract with high value suppliers, we require that they confirm to us that:
They have taken steps to eradicate modern slavery within their business;
They hold their own suppliers to account over modern slavery; and
They pay their employees any prevailing minimum wage applicable within their country of operations, including within the UK.
Screening for other suppliers: We believe it is unfortunately not practicable for any business to fully screen all suppliers used for low value items. Equally, to restrict the purchase of such items solely to preferred suppliers would potentially prevent many smaller businesses and sole traders from achieving economic independence undermining the understood intentions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This could be particularly discriminatory towards small local businesses around our operations in the UK which we actively try to support. As such, we adopt a pragmatic approach to small purchases where, prior to placing orders, we:
Review websites, social media pages, reviews and other online sources;
Refer to prior knowledge and experience of our staff, clients and other suppliers; and
Consider the status, location and reputation of the organisation involved.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited wishes to make it explicitly clear that we would immediately consider terminating our relationship with any organisation should any instances of modern slavery come to light. This would include, but is not limited to, instances where:
They fail to pay their employees any prevailing minimum wage applicable within their country of operations, including within the UK;
They actively exploit international tax or employment arrangements to avoid paying the prevailing minimum wage in the UK;
They operate in a manner which fails to protect the health, safety or welfare of their workers in a manner consistent with the established practices in their country of operations; or
They operate in a manner which is inconsistent with the United Nations’ Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).
Furthermore, as a professional organisation we expect our staff and those working on our behalf to behave in a responsible manner raising any concerns that may arise in the course of their work both internally and with the appropriate authorities where applicable.
We conduct training for our staff so that they understand the signs of modern slavery and what to do if they suspect that it is taking place.
Our performance indicators
We will know the effectiveness of the steps that we are taking to ensure that slavery and/or human trafficking is not taking place within our business or supply chain if:
No reports are received from employees, the public, or law enforcement agencies to indicate that modern slavery practices have been identified within our business operations; and/or
Reports from our employees or workers are received to indicate that modern slavery practices have been identified outside our business operations.
Approval for this statement
This statement was approved by the Board of Directors on 14 August 2017.
This policy is reviewed on an annual basis and is freely available to our customers, suppliers, employees and the general public. It is published on our website with a direct link from our homepage in accordance with best practice established in the Modern Slavery Act 2015.
14 August 2017
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited is committed to assisting our agricultural clients and other livestock or plant premises to maintain biosecurity on their premises. We understand that the action you take on your premises is vital in stopping the introduction and spread of animal and plant diseases and pests in the UK. We actively support the practice of good biosecurity measures at all times.
We understand that disease or pests may not always be apparent, especially in the early stages, and there are many ways in which they can be introduced and spread. We recognise that visitors to your premises, particularly those that visit a number of different similar premises in an area, are a potential source of disease and contamination. We are committed to taking appropriate actions to minimise this risk.
The policy’s purpose is to:
Ensure compliance with The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) 2002.
Promote, as far as practicable, high standards of biosecurity to maintain human, animal and plant health.
All farm animals naturally carry a range of diseases, some of which can also affect humans. These diseases are known as zoonoses, and if you work with animals your health may be at risk from them.
Zoonoses are caused by micro-organisms, which are subject to the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). COSHH requires employers and self-employed people to:
assess the risks to health from work activities which involve a hazardous substance (eg a micro-organism);
prevent or, where this is not reasonably practicable, adequately control exposure to the hazardous substances;
introduce and maintain control measures;
inform, instruct and train employees about the risks and precautions to be taken;
regularly review risk assessments and the effectiveness of control measures.
Diseases transmitted from animals to humans can also affect visitors to farms – especially children or the elderly, who are more vulnerable to infection. These illnesses include those resulting from infection with the organisms Escherichia coli O157 (E coli O157) and Cryptosporidium parvum.
Pests and Plant Diseases
It is not just animals that are at risk from poor biosecurity. The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), The Forestry Commission, the National Trust and various other agencies are increasingly concerned about the spread of plant diseases and pests in the UK.
The information below summarises these issues:
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited has responded to advice issued by the Animal and Plant Health Agency and the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs by implementing the following measures:
We train all our staff on the principles of biosecurity, hygiene and disease security. Additionally, we provide regular refresher and update training relevant to the specific work project being undertaken.
We direct our staff not to feed animals and to minimise direct contact with animals, crops and other plants whilst visiting livestock and other premises where animals, crops or plants are present.
We direct our staff to park away from livestock and working farmyards where possible.
We provide our staff with appropriate PPE which we expect them to use appropriately and maintain in a clean and functional condition.
We expect our staff to cooperate with any reasonable biosecurity measures that the premises they are visiting have in place. Additionally, we provide cleaning and disinfectant materials to our staff when visiting premises with livestock and expect them to disinfect hands, footwear and, where necessary vehicles, before and after visiting each premises. We provide a DEFRA approved broad spectrum disinfectant (Virkon S by Du Pont).
We maintain records of sites visited and will make these available to relevant authorities in the event of a disease outbreak.
The following procedure is to be followed when visiting any premises where high levels of biosecurity risk exist. These premises include, but are not limited to, all premises where livestock are likely to be (or have recently been) present.
Immediately prior to entering the premises:
Clean as much dirt and mud from your footwear as practicable before disinfecting footwear using the DEFRA approved disinfectant issued for the purpose.
If your vehicle is to be taken onto the site, clean as much dirt and mud from your vehicle as practicable before disinfecting wheels and tyres using the DEFRA approved disinfectant issued for the purpose.
Clean hands using a suitable anti-bacterial hand sanitiser.
Where possible, park off-site or in areas specifically designated for visitor parking and walk on to the premises. In particular, avoid driving through or parking in areas where livestock or farm machinery are present or used.
Report immediately to a suitably responsible member of the site’s staff, book onto the premises and follow any additional biosecurity measures they may have in place.
During your visit:
Record your visit on our “Biosecurity Visit Record” and provide a completed “Biosecurity Confirmation Certificate” to the site’s staff. These records may be important in quickly controlling any disease outbreak that may occur.
Promote awareness of Biosecurity and the company’s Biosecurity policy.
Seek advice from the site’s staff as to how you can effectively minimise your exposure to any risks present.
Minimise your exposure to animals, crops and plants follow good hygiene practices.
Immediately after leaving the premises and before attending other sites:
If your vehicle was taken onto the site, clean as much dirt and mud from your vehicle as practicable before disinfecting wheels and tyres using the DEFRA approved disinfectant issued for the purpose.
Ensure any contaminated equipment is either cleaned and disinfected or disposed of in an appropriate manner. Where this is not immediately possible, ensure that it is stored in a manner as to minimised the risk of any further cross-contamination.
Clean hands using a suitable anti-bacterial hand sanitiser.
After your visit (within 48 hours):
Return your completed “Biosecurity Visit Record” to Head Office where it will be made available to the relevant authorities if required.
Report any specific risks you are made aware of during your visit to the General Manager at Head Office.
Report any concerns you may have from your visit relating to plant or animal health or welfare to the General Manager at Head Office.
All employees are made aware of their individual responsibility to take care of themselves, the environment and others that may be affected by their work and to cooperate with the company to fulfil its duties under Health and Safety legislation and this policy.
This policy is reviewed on an annual basis and is freely available to our customers, suppliers, employees and the general public. Additionally, this policy is to be immediately reviewed upon any change to the employment of staff members identified by name within it or upon any other significant change to the business or working practices.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited is committed to carrying out business fairly, honestly and openly. This means we have a zero tolerance towards bribery. We will never permit or authorise the offering, making or receiving of a bribe.
Taxes and Social Security contributions, both in the UK and abroad, form an essential means of funding our society and community. Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited is committed to ensuring both that it continues to pay all contributions required by law and to ensuring that it works with the appropriate authorities to ensure that all third parties also meet this requirement.
There are no exceptions to this policy.
The policy’s purpose is to:
Set out our general policy in relation to bribery, of which all employees, contractors and other workers need to be aware.
Set out our general policy in relation to tax and social security contributions, of which all employees, contractors and other workers need to be aware.
In this policy references are made to the Company Director, Mr Peter Rowley, and the General Manager, Mr Douglas Hough. In the absence of either, all matters must be referred without undue delay to the other.
Who does this policy apply to?
This policy applies to everyone who works for us at whatever level. It will include all Directors, managers, employees (whether permanent or on fixed term contracts, full time or part-time etc.), as well as anyone who is not an employee (such as consultants, sub-contractors, agents, representatives).
Consequences of breaches of the policy for our employees and partners
Bribery is a crime. All of you, whether you are employees or Directors, if you offer, make or receive a bribe you will be breaking the law. We can also be liable for your activities. Bribery carries a sentence of up to 10 years in jail and the possibility of an unlimited fine. Any employee of ours who offers, makes or receive a bribe is very likely to be subject to disciplinary procedures (and this is likely to amount to gross misconduct and lead to dismissal in many cases).
Tax evasion is a crime. Additionally, The Criminal Finances Act 2017 makes it a crime for an organisation such as ours to facilitate tax evasion by others. This is a technical offence, the only defence to which is to demonstrate that the organisation and all those working on its behalf have actively sought to prevent involvement in tax evasion activities. Where we or those working on our behalf become aware of suspicious activities these will be reported internally and to the relevant regional enforcement authorities.
Business consequences for us if offences take place
If we are involved in tax evasion or bribery (or those who work for us or with us or on our behalf, such as our clients, suppliers, agents or workers) there can be serious consequences. These include:
Damage to our reputation (including being subject to unfavourable press, TV and social media scrutiny);
Those who do business with us may cancel or not renew contracts with us;
Those who buy our goods and services may no longer do so;
If we are convicted of bribery we may have to pay over whatever amounts we have received from any business or contracts entered into pursuant to a bribe;
We could be stopped from trying to obtain work with some type of contracts with public organisations; and
We could be stopped from trying to obtain work from certain international bodies.
Consequences for those who provide goods and services to us
If a Company or a person who provides goods and/or services to us and has used bribery to do so we will normally wish to stop trading with them. Additionally, should they be involved in bribery or tax evasion, we will carefully review our relationship with them and will expect them to promptly settle all sums owed and establish appropriate measures to prevent reoccurrence.
For our agents and others acting on our behalf if they breach this policy, let alone offer, make or receive a bribe, we will wish to terminate our contracts immediately with them.
How we communicate this policy
This policy is made available in the following ways:
It is publicly available on our website at www.onestopepc.co.uk;
It is drawn to the attention of every new employee; and
Those working with us (employees and non-employees) who are most likely to be affected by bribery or tax evasion will receive additional training and support.
What you should do if you are subject to an offer of or making of a bribe or a request for a bribe?
If you are asked to make a bribe or you are offered a bribe (whether a mere offer or the actual making of it), you must of course refuse to make or receive the bribe. In normal circumstances:
You should explain our policy regarding bribery; and
You should refuse to make or receive (as the case may be) a bribe; and
Report the matter immediately to the General Manager who will also notify the Company Director.
We recognise that in certain circumstances you may feel that your personal safety is at risk if you are asked to make or receive a bribe. It may not be safe for you to explain our policy or to refuse or make the bribe. In such cases our first concern is for your safety. In such circumstances you will need to do what is necessary to protect yourself and then you will need to report what has occurred as soon as possible to the Company Director who will then notify the General Manager.
Recognising what is and what is not a bribe
Sometimes it is not always easy to recognise a bribe from a legitimate payment we need make or which we receive. Hospitality, gifts and charitable donations are not normally illegal and are all perfectly acceptable. They are also a normal way of establishing and building contacts and relationships with potential and actual customers as well as our suppliers.
To help you understand what is acceptable for you to receive or make in the way of gifts and hospitality, please consult the General Manager. Any charitable gift, whether made by a third party or to be made by us, needs the approval of Company Director.
Requests to make or receive payments other than those which relate to the normal course of our business must always be treated with suspicion. Consult with the General Manager about any situations or offers of payments etc. which have caused you or raise any suspicion.
Usually it will not be difficult to tell when something does not seem right. Usually it is very obvious, because what is occurring or what you are being asked to do is something which does not normally occur in your work for us. Equally, it may seem unreasonable or unethical to you as a reasonable person.
What you should do if you become aware of tax evasion?
If you are asked to participate in tax evasion or you become aware of such practices (whether a mere offer or the actual making of it), you must of course refuse to participate. In normal circumstances:
You should explain our policy regarding tax evasion; and
You should refuse to participate in any such scheme; and
Report the matter immediately to the General Manager who will also notify the Company Director.
We recognise that in certain circumstances you may feel that your personal safety is at risk. It may not be safe for you to explain our policy or to refuse to participate. In such cases our first concern is for your safety. In such circumstances you will need to do what is necessary to protect yourself and then you will need to report what has occurred as soon as possible to the Company Director who will then notify the General Manager.
Recognising what is and what is not tax evasion
Tax Evasion is the illegal non-payment or underpayment of taxes by an individual or organisation, usually resulting from the making of a false declaration or no declaration at all of taxes due to the relevant tax authorities. For example, deliberately (or recklessly) treating expenditure as tax deductible when it is not, structuring advice known to be for the purposes of tax evasion, and concealing the true nature of income or expenses. This may include direct and indirect charges such as:
Non-payment of income or corporation tax due in full; or
Non-payment of National Insurance contributions in full; or
Non-payment of Value Added Tax (VAT) in full.
Tax evasion can be linked to money laundering and organised crime. As such, cash payments can be particularly high risk and care must be taken to ensure the origin of the payment is known. All cash payments must be properly recorded and entered into the company’s formal accounting systems.
One of the most common forms of tax evasion is under-reporting of income. This is best prevented by ensuring that all transactions are properly and promptly recorded within accounting systems both internally and externally.
The legislation does not hold relevant bodies to account for the crimes of their customers, nor does it require them to prevent their customers from committing tax evasion. Nor is the legislation designed to capture the misuse of legitimate products and services that are provided to customers in good faith, where the individual advisor and relevant body did not know that its products were intended to be used for tax evasion purposes.
We wish to encourage you to raise any concerns or suspicions you may have as soon as you have them. Even if you are not sure whether:
What has occurred; or
A payment; or
The actions of another employee; or
An action of someone who provides goods or services to us; or
An action of someone who uses our services
amounts to bribery or tax evasion.
We urge you to raise your concerns with the General Manager. The Board of Directors wish to encourage the reporting of your concerns and suspicions and will wish it be known that if you do so you will not be subject to any disciplinary action or unfavourable treatment (or any threats relating to these). If you consider that you have been subject to such action or treatment, please use our grievance procedure.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment is fully committed to working with enforcement authorities both within and outside the UK to prevent criminal activity. Where we become aware of such activity we will actively report it to the relevant authority and will work positively with such authorities on receipt of information requests. For the purposes of GDPR, we consider this a “Legitimate Interest” as defined in the legislation.
This policy is reviewed on a six monthly basis and is freely available to our customers, suppliers, employees and the general public.
Rowleys Commercial Energy Assessment Limited provides energy assessment services nationwide using our own network of accredited energy assessors. Our administrative offices provide support to this UK wide team ensuring you receive an efficient and professional service.
NB: At the current time only the locations of administration offices are shown. We hope to add assessor locations in due course.
Peter has over 40 years experience in surveying commercial and industrial buildings. A member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), he has been involved in the implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive since it was introduced to the UK in 2007.
With a background including quantity surveying and construction education, Peter is both an experienced energy assessor and trainer. He also provides technical advice and support to a number of accreditation schemes and approved organisations, including the auditing of submitted assessments. He is currently both an ESOS Lead Assessor and a Section 63 Advisor.
Section 63 Action Plans are a new requirement for some buildings in Scotland offered for sale or rent on or after 1st September 2016. Unlike EPC's, they are a service requiring ongoing professional advice and consultation between the energy assessor and the client.
Costs for Section 63 Action Plans vary significantly depending upon the complexity of the building, the complexity of the heating, cooling and lighting systems contained within them, the assessments already in place and the current energy performance of the building fabric. The process involved is also different depending on the results of the building's EPC and the intentions of the client for making the necessary improvements.
We are in a position to provide support with this process. If you are subject to this legislation and require a Section 63 Action Plan please contact us to discuss your requirements and to obtain details of our pricing structure.
FAQ: Section 63 Action Plan
There is a lot of confusion about exemptions relating to listed buildings and buildings within a formally designated conservation area. Firstly, the exemptions that exist appear to vary between administrations in the UK and are different for different forms of assessment. Secondly, the supporting guidance, particularly in England & Wales, is regularly updated and can appear inconsistent or incomprehensible.
Air Conditioning Energy Assessments & Display Energy Certificates
Dealing first with these two assessments, the need for compliance is not affected by the historic nature or otherwise of the building. As such, no exemptions from the requirements for these assessments exist specifically for buildings that are listed or in formally designated conservation areas.
Listed buildings and those in formally designated conservation areas are treated as any other building is treated and require Air Conditioning Energy Assessments (ACEAs) and Display Energy Certificates (DECs) if they meet the other qualifying criteria.
Buildings in Scotland
The Scottish Government has not attempted to exempt listed buildings or buildings in formally designated conservation areas from their regulations for energy efficiency. Instead, they have taken an approach where an assessor is required to consider the impact of improvement measures and their appropriateness for the specific building in question. As such, no exemptions from the requirement for an Energy Performance Certificate exist specifically for buildings that are listed or in formally designated conservation areas. [Click here to see guidance]
Listed buildings and those in formally designated conservation areas in Scotland require Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and Section 63 Action Plans if they meet the other qualifying criteria.
Buildings in England & Wales
Put politely, the situation for buildings in England and Wales is about as clear as mud. The wording in the current regulations is taken directly from the European Directive and says “buildings officially protected as part of a designated environment or because of their special architectural or historical merit, in so far as compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter their character or appearance.”
When these regulations were enacted on 9th January 2013, it was generally accepted that listed buildings were exempt from the requirement for an EPC for sale or let although it was acknowledged that they would still require an EPC in other circumstances (e.g. Green Deal). This belief was re-enforced by guidance published by Historic England which includes the statement “An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is a legal requirement when building, selling or renting a property. However, there are exemptions for certain types of building and since January 2013 listed buildings have been exempted from the need to have an EPC.” However, Historic England’s Terms and Conditions include the usual disclaimers regarding their interpretation of the law in that the position stated was just their interpretation and that they accept no liability for its accuracy. In the absence of enforcement action or legal precedents being set, much discussion has continued both in and out of the legal community with differing interpretations resulting.
Moving forward to the latest guidance to come from The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the UK Government Department which now has responsibility for EPCs. Issued in February 2017, this update is contained within the guidance for landlords and enforcement authorities on the minimum level of energy efficiency required to let non-domestic property under the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015. The advice, published in Chapter 1 on page 19 is shown below:
“There is a common misunderstanding relating to listed buildings and whether they are exempt from the requirement to obtain an EPC. Listed properties, and buildings within a conservation area, will not necessarily be exempt from the requirement to have a valid EPC and it will be up to the owner of a listed building to understand whether or not their property is required to have an EPC. Where a listed privately rented non-domestic property, or a property within a conservation area, is required to have an EPC, that property will be within scope of the minimum energy efficiency standards.
“As noted at 1.3.3 above, an EPC is not currently required for a listed property or building within a conservation area when it is sold or rented in so far as compliance with minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter its character or appearance. Examples of energy performance measures which may alter character or appearance (or as a minimum are likely to require local authority planning permission to install on a listed building) include external solid wall insulation, replacement glazing, solar panels, or an external wall mounted air source heat pump. Where character or appearance would not be altered by compliance with energy performance requirements, an EPC may be legally required.
“If an owner or occupier of a listed building is unsure about whether their particular property is or is not required to have an EPC, appropriate advice should be sought at the earliest opportunity.”
Exactly the same information is contained within the equivalent publication for domestic properties which has been published more recently in October 2017. Changes in other guidance documents issued by MHCLG (formerly DCLG) and BEIS have also been made to reflect this. However, whilst they tend to reduce the previously special status given to listed buildings to a par with other designations including Conservation Areas, National Parks, Scheduled Monuments and protected parks and gardens, they do little to clarify exactly how far an exemption applies.
This guidance would seem to suggest that the UK Government believes the exemption for listed buildings is much more restricted than had previously become accepted. Indeed, it would appear to be more compatible with the Scottish Government’s interpretation that the exemption is solely from making improvements that would unacceptably alter the protected building’s character or appearance and not from the entirety of the process. Similarly, it would appear to reflect an expectation that reasonable improvements, particularly where these would improve the energy efficiency of a building whose performance is currently very poor, should be carried out.
This is not without merit or logic. At the current time, an EPC in itself does not mandate that any works actually be carried out. The recommendations are just that, recommendations. Therefore a view could be formed that having an EPC can never unacceptably alter the character or appearance of the building. As such it could be argued no building can claim exemption from having an EPC on these grounds alone. Additionally, the current requirements under the MEES include provision for exemptions from making specific improvements where required third party consent cannot be obtained. Hence, if Listed Building Consent cannot be obtained from the relevant authorities no unacceptable alteration to the character or appearance of the building is required and so again, there is no need to apply this exemption from having an EPC.
Many councils provide guidance on improving historic buildings with Westminster City Council providing some of the most extensive and practicable advice we have found. This includes a document titled “Energy Efficiency in Conservation Areas” which discusses improvements that can be made without damaging historic structures.
It may have taken some time but even Historic England have now updated their guidance to emphasise the limited nature of the exemption for both Listed Buildings and those in designated Conservation Areas. (NB: We cannot accept responsibility for the actual content of third party websites and it would appear that even this revised guidance contains some technical errors relating to EPCs). They also provide a wealth of information for those wishing to improve historic buildings without damaging their character and appearance. Indeed, they acknowledge that ensuring a building remains useful and occupied is often the best way of protecting it for the future. Additionally, some energy improvement measures can also improve fire safety and resilience in historic buildings. It should be remembered that it was never the intent of the protection schemes to freeze buildings in time but instead to ensure that they are managed with appropriate sympathy and conserved for the future.
“So in reality, in terms of an EPC, the caveat is meaningless. Therefore, a landlord cannot know if an EPC is needed before they have an EPC for the property”
This article continues to draw the following overall conclusion:
“Regrettably, we simply do not know the answer to whether or not an EPC is required for a listed building; nor whether landlords who have rented out listed buildings will have to comply with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (subject to any other available exemption, e.g. limiting the amount they have to spend); or whether you need an EPC for a listed building in order to be able to rely on regaining possession under Section 21 of the Housing Act 1988. What is clear is that if you have no EPC then you do not have to comply with Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards from 2018 onwards. You could be liable for a penalty for not having an EPC and equally you might not be able to get possession back relying on Section 21. This is a wholly unsatisfactory state of affairs which needs to be addressed by the Government.”
Interestingly, at a recent industry conference (Spring 2018), representatives of both MHCLG and BEIS confirmed that they believed Listed Buildings should have EPCs completed and that recommendations should be implemented wherever possible but with appropriate sympathy to the building as a whole. They were unaware of the conflicting guidance from Historic England which they accepted may be the source of a lot of the current confusion and undertook to attempt to ensure that Historic England updated their guidance to more accurately reflect the limitations of any exemptions which may be available.
Unfortunately, as energy assessors, we are not in a position to provide legal advice but present this information to help you form your own opinion. However, we would point out that there is currently nothing to stop an EPC being completed on a voluntary basis even when one is not required by law. This may have its own implications and so building owners and occupiers should seek their own legal advice but voluntary compliance may provide a suitable solution.
Some listed buildings in England & Wales may be exempt from some or all of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) requirements. However, specific legal advice should be sought on a case by case basis. It is unlikely that an exemption can be demonstrated without first having an EPC completed to confirm the recommendations proposed.
Buildings within formally designated conservation areas are less likely to be subject to exemptions.
Regulation 20 identifies Local Authorities as responsible for enforcing the Section 63 regulations. This matches the approach taken on the production of energy performance certificates (EPCs) under the Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Regulations 2008.
Regulations 22 and 24 set out the penalties for failure to provide an Action Plan on sale or rental or failure to complete improvement works within the required timescale. This will result in issue of a penalty charge notice to the owner of the building.
The level of charge for each failure is £1,000 – the same as for failure to provide a valid EPC where one is required for a non-domestic building.
As is the case with the current Energy Performance of Buildings (Scotland) Regulations, building owners may offer defence, seek review or appeal such notices as set out in regulations 23, 25 and 26.
Once a Section 63 Action Plan is finalised, the building owner can chose to either make the improvements or to defer the improvements by reporting operational energy ratings via a Display Energy Certificate (DEC) on an annual basis.
If you choose to complete the improvements immediately you will have a period of 42 months (three and a half years) from the date of the Action Plan to complete the works. This period allows for the processes involved in obtaining any necessary Building Warrant. Once complete your action plan must be updated by an accredited Section 63 Assessor to confirm the work has been completed.
If you choose to defer you must continue to obtain a DEC annually until the the works are completed. If you miss a renewal deadline or fail to obtain a DEC then the action plan must be completed within the initial 42 month period. If you have already deferred 42 months you may immediately be in default and subject to a penalty charge notice from the local authority.
Where the regulations introduced by Section 63 of The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 apply, the owner of the building must undertake further assessment to produce an ‘Action Plan’. This plan identifies targets for improvement of the carbon and energy performance of the building and sets out how the owner will meet these targets by making physical improvements to the property.
The requirements are discussed in detail in the document “Improving Energy Performance and Emissions in existing Non-Domestic Buildings– a guide for owners“.
The regulations apply from 1 September 2016 to buildings in Scotland.
Initially Section 63 Action Plans will only be required for larger buildings; those with a floor area of more than 1,000 m². The requirement is triggered by either sale or by lease to a new tenant.
Generally, owners of such buildings are also required to provide a valid Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) in such situations We would advise clients to ensure that the assessor whose services they contract is capable of producing both the EPC and a Section 63 Action Plan if required, otherwise additional expenses may be incurred.
Buildings that meet energy standards equivalent to those introduced by the 2002 building regulations in Scotland or are already improved via a Green Deal funding agreement are exempted from the regulations.
You may have heard about the Green Deal initiative or seen reference to it on your Energy Performance Certificate. Green Deal was a government backed scheme to help fund improvements that would bring about savings to your energy bills. Under the scheme the government would fund loans to help meet the initial cost of the improvements which you would then pay back as part of your future energy bills. The idea was that the repayment costs would be offset by the savings in your bill so you would not have to find the extra money to pay for the improvement. However, the government has stopped funding the Green Deal Finance Company which was set up to lend money to Green Deal providers to fund improvements under the scheme.
The scheme is now operating in a new format and is funding some projects. A full relaunch is expected soon and Green Deal assessments are still available. You can find out about the scheme by visiting the Green Deal Finance Company website.
However, Green Deal finance is not the only way you can fund improvements and other financial packages are available. In addition to normal loans there are specialist financial packages and grants available. Some of these take the form of more traditional loans and mortgages which could still be repaid from savings in the energy bill and may offer lower interest rates. We make no recommendation in relation to any of the financial packages available and advise that you seek your own independent financial advice.
Other providers include:
Major banks and building societies
Ecology Building Society – Sustainable savings and mortgages
Portman Asset Finance – Finance for businesses to install renewable technologies
Carbon Trust Financing – General information, grants and loans
Salix Finance – Funding for the public sector