An investigation performed by property technology solution Spec has revealed that as many as 2.5 million Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are likely to be inaccurate.
The study, which involved 532 properties in London is the first sample analysed to date.
The Energy Performance of Buildings 2012 Act requires that all properties for sale or for let in England and Wales must have an EPC, which measures the energy performance and environmental impact of the property.
As demonstrated in the report Impacts of Inaccurate Area Measurement on EPC Grades, the method used by most Domestic Energy Assessors (DEAs), which is known as the Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure, are measuring, on average an 8.6% discrepancy per property. That is equivalent to 87 square feet.
However, one in four EPC measurements
This means that of the approximately 19 million EPCs on the EPC register, 2.5 million are likely to be wrong with over half, or 1.3 million, at risk of being downgraded.
Why is this important?
A property’s energy rating is measured based largely on the floor space of a property. Accurate measurements, therefore, are integral to producing an accurate EPC rating.
An error of just 1% can result in a one-point change to the EPC score, which can be enough to affect the entire EPC rating, and so downgrade the property.
The larger the discrepancy in floor measurement, the larger the margin of error in the EPC, and the greater the potential for an incorrect rating.
Another consideration is that of the environmental impact. In the UK, 27% of carbon dioxide emissions come from housing, and without accurate measurements, tackling this problem is much harder.
The impact on landlords and letting agents
These discrepancies could have a serious impact on landlords and letting agents. It is a legal requirement that any property rented to tenants must have an energy rating of between A and E. It is illegal for landlords to let out houses with an EPC below an E rating.
However, the findings suggest that as many as 35,000 properties, or equivalent to all the households in Harrogate, could inadvertently be breaking the law.
This means that those landlords affected could be subject to fines of thousands of pounds should their property be found to not be meeting the legal requirements.
Reaction to the report
Commenting on the Impacts of Inaccurate Area Measurement on EPC Grades white paper, 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.”