Landlords across Scotland could end up with heavy fines because they have not been given enough information about the need to provide Energy Performance Certificates on their properties, according to one of the country’s leading letting agents.
Braemore Property Management has said that many private landlords are still unaware of the new legislation over EPCs, which came into effect on January 4, and could be fined as the certificates are now compulsory on every property put up for let.
Under the rules, any property that is rented out will need to have an Energy Performance Certificate – which will be made available to tenants at the outset of a new tenancy. The move means that prospective tenants will be given details of the energy efficiency and environmental impact of any property they are considering renting.
However, Braemore, which has a portfolio of 850 properties in Edinburgh worth more than £250 million, believes that the Government has not provided enough information about the new legislation – meaning that many independent landlords risk being fined up to £5000 if they do not have EPCs in place.
Colette Murphy, director of Braemore Property Management, said: “There are a lot of private Landlords in Edinburgh and across the rest of Scotland who still do not know about this legislation and will not be aware of the penalties they face if they do not have an EPC.
“The Government has not been particularly pro-active in providing information about what the certificates are or the fact that it is now illegal to rent out a flat if you did not have one from the start of January.
“Although lettings agents like us are aware of the need for EPCs and are informing their clients about the new requirement, there’s a risk that many private and independent Landlords will not appreciate the urgency of having one of these in place when their property is marketed.”
Colette argues that the EPCs are an unwelcome extra expense for Landlords, although they could help give more clarity for tenants over the energy efficiency of the properties they are considering renting.
She added: “I can see how tenants will be interested to see a document that shows the energy efficiency of the property they want to rent. However, it is still an extra expense for landlords and many people will be unhappy at having to pay for it.
“There will be some groups such as reluctant landlords – who are those people who turned to the rental sector when they found they could not sell their homes – that will be particularly unhappy at having to buy an EPC. The reason they’ve rented out their properties in the first place is because they want to minimise their losses, so paying £80 for an energy certificate is another financial burden for them.
“Although I think that most landlords will eventually see EPCs as a necessary expense to ensure their property is legally rentable, there is a lot of uncertainty about them at the moment. The problem remains that there is not much information out there about what the certificates actually are and how you get them, and I think many landlords will be caught out now that they have come into effect.”