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Latest News

Government cuts minimum EPC rating to "D"

09/02/2012

Energy Ministers have today revealed "improved" plans to ensure the Feed-in Tariff scheme will continue to support the roll-out of renewable energy across the UK.

Details of the revised programme reveal the qualifying requirement of an Energy Performance Certificate has been relaxed to a 'D' rating from the original proposed 'C' level and free solar rent-a-roof schemes are to have their wings clipped with a 20% reduction in pay-outs.

In addition, the tariff for micro-CHP installations will be increased to boost deployment. However, future solar PV tariffs will be pegged to future “cost reductions and industry growth”.

The new plan also reveals the overspend of the budget on the surge for solar PV last year will be met by the underspend on larger-scale renewables and will not impact consumers' bills.

The Government says today's plans will ensure the future of the Feed-in Tariffs scheme by making it more predictable. Transparency, longevity and certainty, its says, are at the heart of the new improved scheme.

Energy Ministers claim the reforms will provide greater confidence to consumers and industry investing in renewable technologies such as solar power, anaerobic digestion, micro-CHP, wind and hydro power.

The Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme provides a subsidy, paid for by all consumers through their energy bills, enabling small scale renewable and low carbon technologies to compete against higher carbon forms of electricity generation.

DECC insist the surge of solar PV installations in the latter part of last year, due to a 45% reduction in estimated installation costs since 2009, has placed a huge strain on the FITs budget.

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “Today we are announcing plans to improve the Feed-in Tariffs scheme. Instead of a scheme for the few the new improved scheme will deliver for the many.

“Our new plans will see almost two and a half times more installations than originally projected by 2015 which is good news for the sustainable growth of the industry.

“We are proposing a more predictable and transparent scheme as the costs of technologies fall, ensuring a long term, predictable rate of return that will closely track changes in prices and deployment.

“I want to see a bright and vibrant future for small scale renewables in the UK and allow each of the technologies to reach their potential where they can get to a point where they can stand on their own two feet without the need for subsidy sooner rather than later.”

Key changes to the Feed-in Tariff scheme, include:

* A tariff of 21p/kWh will take effect from 1st April this year for domestic-size solar panels with an eligibility date on or after 3rd March 2012. Other tariff reductions apply for larger installations.

* The Department says it has listened carefully to feedback on the energy efficiency proposals that we put forward in the consultation of 31st October. Properties installing solar panels on or after 1st April this year will be required to produce an Energy Performance Certificate rating of ‘D’ or above to qualify for a full FIT. The previous proposals for a ‘C’ rating or a commitment for all Green Deal measures to be installed was seen as impractical at this stage. DECC estimates that about half of all properties are already eligible for a ‘D’ rating.

* From 1st April 2012, new ‘multi-installation’ tariff rates set at 80% of the standard tariffs will be introduced for solar PV installations where a single individual or organisation is already receiving FITs for other solar PV installations. This reflects the lower costs of such installations, as they benefit from the economies of scale. Based on the feedback received, the threshold is set at more than 25 installations. Individuals or organisations with 25 or fewer installations will still be eligible for the individual rate. DECC is now consulting on a proposal that social housing, community projects and distributed energy schemes be exempt from these multi-installation tariff rates.

* The tariff for micro-CHP installations will be increased to recognise the benefits this technology could bring and to encourage its development.

The DECC statement, added: “In line with the evidence of falling costs for solar PV, DECC is proposing to peg the subsidy levels to cost reductions and industry growth to provide more certainty for future investments. This will ensure that subsidy levels keep in step with the market. It builds on the best of the existing German system and will remove the need for emergency reviews.

“Using budget flexibility to cover the overspend resulting from high PV uptake this year, while still allowing £460 million for new installations over the Spending Review period. This won’t have any impact on consumer bills beyond the agreed overall cap on renewable subsidies as it will primarily be funded from an under spend on the budget allocated for large-scale renewables.”


Breaking News - Government loses crucial solar appeal

25/01/2012

Three Court of Appeal judges this morning upheld the original decision that the government had acted unlawfully in proposing cuts to feed-in tariffs for solar installations completed after December 12 last year, on the grounds the consultation on the proposed changes to the scheme did not close until December 23.

The ruling was celebrated by the solar industry, which has consistently argued that ministers should not be allowed to impose "retrospective" changes to the feed-in tariff incentive scheme.

"Four Judges, including three in The Court of Appeal, have now called the Government's actions illegal," said Daniel Green, chief executive at Homesun, one of the company's behind the legal action. "That's a four-nil victory and a decisive ruling that government may not make retrospective changes to the FIT because, as Lord Justice Moses concludes, to do so 'would be to take away an existing entitlement without statutory authority'."

His comments were echoed by Jeremy Leggett, chairman of Solarcentury, who writing on Twitter urged the government to now accept the ruling and work to build "a counter-austerity industry in solar".

The ruling means that the government will now have to pick up the costs of the organisations that brought the original legal action.

However, a DECC spokeswoman said the government was still "considering our options" in the wake of the ruling, prompting speculation the government could seek to lodge a second appeal with the Supreme Court.

Reports that the government could yet seek to appeal again to the Supreme Court prompted an angry reaction from solar industry campaigners.

Writing on Twitter Seb Berry of Solarcentury said: "Appeal Court rejected DECCs application to appeal to the Supreme Ct. DECC can still apply directly but on what possible grounds?"

Others have suggested that the government may consider an appeal in order to ensure demand for new solar installations remains low in the run up to March 3 - the new cut off date for the higher rate of feed-in tariff incentives.

If the government does not appeal against today's court ruling the level of incentives available for installations completed before March 3 will be confirmed at 43p/kWh. Ministers are concerned that the ruling could spark a month long gold rush as households and businesses rush to take advantage of the higher rate, eating further into a feed-in tariff budget that has already been exceeded for this year.

In contrast, the continued uncertainty caused by a further appeal would stop solar firms advertising that the current feed-in tariff rate is set at 43p/kWh, potentially dampening demand until the incentives are halved on March 3.

The ruling should also pave the way for the release of the government's long-awaited full review of the feed-in tariff scheme, which has been promised for early next month and is expected to map out how ministers plan to cut incentives in future.

Andy Atkins, executive director of Friends of the Earth, which was also involved in the legal action, urged the government to now reform the scheme, increasing the spending cap to allow for the continued expansion of the solar sector.

"This landmark judgement confirms that devastating Government plans to rush through cuts to solar payments are illegal - and will prevent Ministers from causing industry chaos with similar cuts in future," he said.

"The Government must now take steps to safeguard the UK's solar industry and the 29,000 jobs still facing the chop. Ministers must abandon plans to tighten the screw on which homes qualify for solar payments - and use the massive tax revenues generated by solar to protect the industry."

By Jessica Shankleman and James Murray

Changes announced to EPC Holiday Let ruling

23/12/2011


CLICK HERE to read the official Government document.


In simple terms; if your Holiday Home is rented for less than 4 months of the year an EPC will not be required. This exemption also applies if your Holiday Home is let under a Licence to Occupy (where the owner retains the right to access the property during the period of the booking)

For further inforamtion please do not hesitate to contact us on 0208 522 0001

Feed in tariifs to be slashed by 50% from 8th December 2011

28/10/2011

A fact sheet posted on the Trust's website dated 26 October details proposed changes to FITs that are expected to be announced in a consultation by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) next week.

FURTHER READING
'I haven't come here to kill the tariff scheme' - Greg Barker's Solar Power UK speech in full
Feed-in tariff cuts threaten to 'kill interest in solar PV'The document confirms that as expected the government will cut the rate of feed-in tariffs for solar PV installations with under 4kW of capacity to 21p/kWh, a reduction of more than half on the current 43p/kWh level.

The document also reveals that the cuts will effectively apply from 8 December this year.

The fact sheet states: "A reduced rate of 21p/kWh for solar PV installations < 4kW - tariffs will be introduced from 1 April 2012 and will affect all installations with an eligibility date on or after 8 December 2011... This tariff rate is designed to provide householders with a rate of return of around 4 per cent. "

In addition, the fact sheet confirms plans to ensure households meet minimum energy efficiency standards before they can receive feed-in tariffs.

"From 1 April 2012, domestic installations must be accompanied by an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) with a level C or above/which has completed all "Green Deal" measures," the document states. "Where a domestic property does not meet these energy efficiency requirements, the Solar PV installation may receive a lower tariff."

Howard Johns of the Solar Trade Association described the proposals as a "nightmare", warning that the cuts would have a chilling effect on the industry.

"It makes [Climate Change Minister] Greg Barker's speech yesterday look like the flannel that it was," he told BusinessGreen, referring to the minister's assurance that he had no plans to kill off the solar sector.

The industry has called for feed-in tariffs to be cut in line with reductions in the cost of solar panels, but experts have repeatedly warned that cuts of around 50 per cent would cripple the industry and result in the closure of financing schemes that provide households and businesses with free solar panels.

Speaking yesterday in response to reports the tariffs would be cut to around 20p per kWh, Seb Berry of solar firm Solarcentury said:"This will kill interest in solar PV for social housing and free schemes," he said. "It reduces the rate of returns to under five per cent and no investor will go near that."

His comments were echoed by Dave Sowden of the Micropower Council who warned that demand for solar panels would now be restricted to rich households.

"It appears they have tried to calibrate it down to five per cent returns," he said. "We agree they needed to recalibrate it back to five to eight per cent returns, but if you go below five per cent then you completely wipe out free solar and social housing schemes. It just becomes a rich man's game."

The Energy Saving Trust document said that under the proposed changes it will now take 18 years for a 2.9kW system, eight years longer than at the current levels.

It also argued that the new four per cent rate of return was more "appropriate" than the original five to eight per cent rate due to the changes in the investment market that has seen interest rates slashed.

Writing on Twitter yesterday, Barker said the new proposals would be presented in parliament early next week.

The Energy Saving Trust and DECC failed to respond to request for comment at the time of going to press.

Landlords to Face Rental Ban from 2018

04/10/2011

Since 2008 Landlords have faced the legal requirement of obtaining an Energy Performance Certificate EPC prior to letting their property. The EPC provides a rating on a scale of A-G showing the Energy Efficiency and the Environmental Impact. The EPC also contains recommendations as to how the Landlord can improve the energy efficiency of their property, although undertaking these works is not compulsory.

However all this is about to change – The UK Government has stated that properties with an F or G rating will no longer be allowed to be rented from 2018. There is speculation that these measures will be phased in from as early as 2016 if Government rumours are to be believed.

So what will this mean for Landlords? The average Energy Efficiency rating for properties in the UK is “D” but ratings below this are not uncommon with housing stock is still dominated by solid brick construction houses. An EPC survey undertaken on such a house could quite possibly have a rating of F or G if there was inadequate heating, or no double glazing. Large houses tend to have low Energy Ratings as they lose heat via their greater surface areas.
From 2018 Landlords will be faced with the choice of either upgrading their property or removing it from the rental market.

Landlords who have invested in flats as opposed to housed are less likely to suffer under the proposed legislation as flats tend to have higher Energy Ratings. This will usually be because they were constructed more recently or are “sandwiched” between other flats. However the only foolproof way to assess your Energy Rating is to commission an Energy Performance Certificate.

How can I improve the Energy Rating of my rental property? will be the question Landlords will be asking. The EPC contains recommendations of the works required and also shows a “Before and After” rating. One of the most common recommendations is to install Low Energy light bulbs; these are now cheap to purchase and the quality of the light provided is almost equivalent to standard incandescent bulbs. Landlords with low voltage Halogen downlighters should consider using LED replacement bulbs. Loft Insulation is another common recommendation and where possible this should be increased to the minimum 270mm thickness required under current Building Regulations. Subsidised Loft Insulation is available from your Energy Supplier under the Governments CERT legislation and this may cost less than £100 for a typical house. Additional recommendations include Cavity and Solid Wall Insulation along with improvements to Heating Controls. Once a Landlord has commissioned an EPC they will have a report that is specific to their property.

Landlords who may be concerned over their ability to fund these Energy upgrades should seek comfort in the Governments Green Deal which is due to be introduced early in 2012. This will allows Landlords to fund Energy Saving improvements via their Energy Supplier and household names such as B&Q, with the repayments made from savings on the properties energy bills. Now as the bills for the property are paid by the tenant, this effectively means that the Landlord will obtain these improvements with little or no cost to themselves.

The age of the Energy Efficient rental property is now firmly on the horizon.

EPCs to be required for Holiday Lets

15/03/2011

A Holiday let is defined as a building that is occupied as a result of a short term letting arrangement and is rented out for a combined total of four months or more in any 12 month period.

The change will apply to the owners of thousands of typical "seaside" homes, but will also apply to owners and managing agents of city centre accomodation - let to city visitors and business people.

EPC Choice are offering preferential rates for companies operating in the sector. Please contact Chris Grant on 0208 522 0001 cg@epcchoice.com - for further information.
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The amendment to the government legislation can be found on page 27 of THIS document.

Follow us at Twitter and Facebook

18/02/2011

Subscribers to our Twitter and Facebook pages will be constantly update with EPC Choice on our expanding range of services and locations we now cover. There is still only one choice - EPC Choice

EPC Choice elected to Safe Trader register

09/11/2010

Consumers can now verify that EPC Choice are bona-fide providers of EPCs by calling 0208313 4830 or logging on via VERIFY HERE

This prestigious award provides consumers with the confidence that EPC Choice are working within the strict guidelines set out by Trading Standards.

Landlords Periodic Inspection Reports now available!

14/10/2010

With prices from £120 for any property with up to 10 circuits, EPC Choice are able to offer Periodic Inspection Reports prepared to IEE BS7671 2008 17th edition standard throughout the M25 area.

24 hour appointments are available if required.

To book a Landlords Periodic Inspection Report just call 08452 601 606 now.

Read the latest from the world of property and EPCs!

09/07/2010

The EPC Choice newsletter is published monthly or sooner if the latest news warants it. To subscribe email newsletter@epcchoice.com with Subscribe as the heading.

VIEW HERE

EPC Choice and Netmovers join forces

29/06/2010

Visit Netmovers here
• No Commission Estate Agent
• Realistically Priced Properties
• £100 Billion Worth of Homes Listed
• Depended On for Over 7 Years

When selling a property in the UK whether via a traditional estate agent, privately or with an on-line Agent an EPC is a legal requirement. To obtain a personalised quotation from EPC Choice CLICK HERE

The HIP is dead....Long live the EPC

21/05/2010

EPCs will still be required and this will need to have been commissioned prior to a property being placed on the market.
Read the full story here

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Read the latest update from the world of EPCs and Property

12/04/2010

Read our Newsletter

Let us Quote you Happy!

08/01/2010

Once the quote is received, a simple on line form is completed and the client will then receive a call from one of our fully qualified Energy Assessors.

Appointments are available 7 days a weeks with th EPC being emailed to the client within 24 hours.

Payment can be made securely on-line by debit or credit card. Bank transfer and cheques complete our payment options.

To obtain your instant quote, just click on the EPC Quote button to the left of our Home Page.

WWF welcomes 2019 European deadline......

29/04/2009

The European Parliament vote proposes that by 2019 all new houses, offices, hospitals, schools and shops built in the European Union are to produce the same amount of energy they consume. The deadline will be 2016 for all public buildings.

The WWF comments “We commend the vision of the legislators in making zero net energy buildings the cornerstone of the revised directive,” said Arianna Vitali Roscini, WWF’s policy officer for energy conservation in buildings. “Technically and economically there is nothing standing in the way of a 2016 target for all new constructions, which could help the EU achieve the 2020 emissions reduction targets.”


The vote, revising a law aiming at improving energy performance in buildings, needs to be confirmed by the European Council later this year.


“There is huge potential for buildings to consume less energy and produce renewable energy on site” Vitali Roscini said. “Promotion of energy efficiency is a winning strategy for Europe. It improves energy security, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, encourages technology development and creates new jobs. This is a structural change within reach, it is up to political will to make it happen.”


WWF is also satisfied that energy efficiency standards will apply to all renovations, and not only to renovations of surfaces above 1,000 square meters, as it was in the previous law. This is particularly relevant because existing constructions represent the majority of the European building stock.

CORGI is dead, long live GAS SAFE

04/04/2009

but excludes Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands.

The following link provides an overview of a landlords responsibilities in this respect-

http://www.gassaferegister.co.uk/advice/renting_a_property/for_landlords.aspx

EPC Choice completes its 5000th EPC

10/02/2009

EPC Choice now act for a wide variety of both private and commercial clients. Ranging from individual landlords to property companies, including RSL's and Housing Associations. We have established a niche market in provision of our services to providers of temporary and emergency accomodation to Local Authorities.
Typical turnaround time are now sub 12 hours from instruction to delivery and this has created a new industry standard in this demanding sector.

There is still only one choice - EPC Choice

Government to reveal green makeover for 7million homes

09/02/2009

Government to reveal green makeover for 7m homes

Plans to be revealed at launch of consultation on heat and energy efficiency

Over 7m homes are expected to benefit from a government plan to cut carbon emissions from British households.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is expected to reveal proposals on Thursday in a consultation on its heat and energy efficiency strategy.

More than a quarter of homes will receive the energy makeover which will cut fuel bills and reduce pollution from carbon dioxide.

DECC is expected to compare the refit to the 10-year process of fitting UK homes with gas central heating in the 1960s and 1970s.

The department will also announce measures to encourage households to install renewable energy systems such as solar photovoltaics and biomass.

Emissions from people’s homes make up 27% of total CO2 emissions, according to Friends of the Earth.

But cost is a continuing concern. While Gordon Brown has announced nearly £1bn for energy-saving initiatives, insulation and small-scale clean energy alone have been estimated to be between £2bn-12.9bn.

By Michael Willoughby

Governments presses ahead with "Day One" Hip Proposal

10/12/2008

The most contentious of these measure will be the removal of temporary first day marketing from 6 April 2009 which means a basic' HIP must be in place before a property is marketed - providing certainty to consumers that a HIP will be available. Althoug, this will not prevent agents advising clients about properties they expect to be coming onto the market.

Other measures include-

Introduction of a Property Information Questionnaire providing basic, useful information about a property including a leasehold summary, within HIPs for all properties marketed for sale from 6 April 2009.

From 1 January 2009 making permanent the current arrangement whereby a copy of the Lease is the only additional requirement in the HIP for leasehold property sales

Ending the use of insurance in personal searches from 6 April 2009 so that consumers receive a better quality product to address the issue of buyers being advised to undertake a 'second search' as a consequence.

Inviting Ted Beardsall, former Deputy Chief Executive of the Land Registry, to convene a working group to consider how property searches might be made simpler and more easy to use for consumers and,

Establishing a working group to explore options for making sure that consumers have appropriate information on property condition, building on work by the Stakeholder Panel to develop market-led models that can be delivered by existing practitioners, including Home Inspectors.

Drop Dead date still Live

15/09/2008

In clarification, properties exempt for the requirement to have a HIP by virtue of having been on the markey prior to 1st August (or the latter dates for three and two bedroom properties) will NOT require a HIP but will require an EPC to be in place in order for marketing to continue.

New PIQ for HIP

01/08/2008

Improved information in HIPs will bring benefits for consumers
Published 29 July 2008

A proposal to further enhance the home buying and selling process for consumers by presenting information in a simpler way up front in a Home Information Pack, was announced today.

A consultation is underway into including a Property Information Questionnaire (PIQ) as a mandatory part of HIPs to improve the product for both buyers and sellers.

The questionnaire has been developed with the industry and is designed to provide information that is not only important for buyers to know but is also easy for sellers to provide without professional help. This will help reduce issues coming to light that delay or cause transactions to fail.

Housing Minister Caroline Flint said:

"Having the right information about a property at the beginning of the home buying process is essential if we are to reduce delays and cut down on wasted costs for both buyers and sellers.

"HIPs are an important first step in achieving greater efficiency and the Property Information Questionnaire will only improve on this, ensuring the buying and selling process is simpler for all."

The questionnaire would include information such as:

Building work carried out to the property;
Information on energy and utilities;
Details on parking arrangements;
Council tax banding.
The PIQ would be a simple form that is freely available to download from the Communities and Local Government and HIP provider websites.

If the consultation recommendations are accepted the new PIQ would become part of the HIP from 1 January 2009.

The quality of leasehold information provided in the HIP is also set to be improved. A consultation has begun into including more leasehold details in HIPs following recommendations by Ted Beardsall, deputy chief executive of HM Land Registry, who was asked to advise on leasehold information.

Leasehold information would also include details about the cost and use of leasehold property and a copy of the lease. At the moment a temporary provision only requires a copy of the lease to be included.

These changes will build on improvements already made to the home buying process. Earlier this year we announced we were working with the industry to improve the quality of services provided by property professionals, including ways of ensuring agents and HIP providers prepare the HIP as soon as possible so it is available to potential buyers early in the buying process.

New Guideline for Landlords over fire safety

31/07/2008

New national home fire safety guidelines for landlords has been released aimed at cutting the number of deaths from house fires each year.
More than 300 people die from house fires each year with over 300,000 fires recorded according to figures for 2004/5.

The new guide, Housing – Fire Safety, was developed by Local Authority Coordinators of Regulatory Services, the Chief Fire Officers Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. The guidance applies to existing residential accommodation including single family houses, bedsits, shared houses and flats. It provides advice on how to keep residential buildings safe from fire, how to carry out a fire risk assessment and includes a range of case studies.

Landlords that follow the guidelines will be well placed to satisfy requirements set out under national fire safety legislation.

Geoffrey Theobald, chairman of LACORS, says: “It’s important that landlords carry out a fire risk assessment and make sure their properties have the right safety measures in place. Tenants have the right to expect that their accommodation is safe and that they will not be injured in a fire.

“Councils have an important role to play in fire safety and are working closely with fire and rescue authorities and local landlords to cut household fires, which claim more than 300 lives each year. But those landlords who intentionally flout the law can expect to face tough action in the courts.”

The National Landlords Association supports the guidance. Their chairman, David Salusbury, says: “With so much potentially confusing fire safety legislation now in force, this new LACORS guidance creates a single document setting out landlords’ obligations. Many landlords want to know what they need to install because they are following good practice and want to avoid the need for enforcement.”

Click on the link below to download a free copy of the guidance.

Lacors



Landlords keen to beat the rush

28/07/2008

EPC CHOICE are establishing themselves as leading providers of EPCs to the rental market. With clients ranging from single Buy to Let investors through to Portfolio Landlords and residential investment companies.

We have signed contracts to provide EPCs for two prominent central London letting agents and are in advance negotiations to undertake EPCs for a 500+ unit residential investment company in NW London.

First Day Marketing delayed...

09/05/2008

Home Information Packs

The Minister for Housing and Planning (Caroline Flint): I am today laying amendments to the Home Information Pack Regulations to extend the temporary first day marketing provision, and to extend the temporary provision requiring HIPs to include the “Lease” only and to “authorise” other leasehold documents, from 1 June to 31 December 2008.
The temporary first day marketing provision allows a property to be marketed without a HIP where the documents required for inclusion in the HIP have been commissioned and paid for, or arrangement for payment been made and are expected to arrive within 28 days.
We introduced the temporary first day marketing provision in order to help smooth the implementation of HIPs, and our evidence shows that it has been effective in doing this. However, we believe that a further period of the flexibility provided by the measure would be prudent. I am, therefore, laying an order to amend the Home Information Packs Regulations to extend the provision from 1 June to 31 December 2008.

The temporary provision requiring HIPs to include the “Lease” only, and to “authorise” other leasehold documents was introduced in response to concerns about delays and additional costs in obtaining leasehold information. This provision is also due to expire on 31 May 2008.
At the time the provision was introduced we also commissioned Ted Beardsall, Deputy Chief Executive of the Land Registry, to undertake a short assessment of the scale and nature of the problems with leasehold information and to advise on possible solutions. Ted Beardsall’s assessment confirms that there are a number of longstanding issues in the provision and cost of leasehold information, which HIPs have thrown the spotlight on; agrees that the inclusion of all leasehold information prior to marketing would cause serious difficulties; and recommends further work to resolve them.
What is clear from the assessment is that it would be premature to lift the current temporary requirement for the lease only, before carrying out the further work it recommends. I am also, therefore, laying an order to amend the Home Information Pack Regulations to extend the temporary provision for leasehold requirements from 1 June until 31 December 2008.
In the interim period, I have asked Ted Beardsall to convene a working group of key industry representatives to develop the options identified in his assessment into practical solutions in respect of:

* the type of leasehold information that should be required within a HIP, and the form this should take, having regard to the information that buyers need, their availability and costs.

* practical steps for helping to establish good practice for landlord and managing agents in the provision of leasehold information.

The working group will report to the Housing Minister in order to prepare and introduce final measures from 1 January 2009.
Home Information Packs were introduced to bring useful information up front in the home buying and selling process to increase transparency and create a better consumer experience of buying and selling a home. We are already seeing positive benefits from HIPs:


* lower up front costs for first time buyers;

* greater competition in the property searches market leading to reductions in costs to consumers - over 80 local authorities now set lower searches fees, some by as much as £120;

* over 700, 000 homes now have Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs);

* on average £300 per dwelling saving if their EPC recommendations are implemented; and

* over 640,000 HIPs produced, the majority within 7 – 14 days.

The amendments I have announced today, together with the extension of insurance cover for property searches which I announced on 6 March, will bring all temporary measures within the same timescale, providing industry with the certainty that the implementation of HIPs should be complete from 31 December 2008.
However, it is clear from our Area Trials and analysis of our monitoring that more needs to be done to ensure that consumers realise the full benefits of HIPs. In particular, to ensure that consumers get to see and are able to use the HIP. Over the coming months, therefore, we will also take action to:

* further build on the quality of the HIP, working with industry in developing innovative solutions to enhance the current product; and

* ensure that consumers see and fully benefit from the information contained in the HIP early in the process, and encourage better practice standards and services consumers get.

Consumers want more general information about the property they are looking to buy – information they can relate to. Although, the current HIP contains information that can be helpful to consumers and professionals alike, it is clear that we can go further in providing consumers with easily accessible information that will help in their decision to buy a home. Information on access, boundaries, changes made to the property and fixtures and fittings are currently authorised for inclusion in the HIP. However, this information is not currently being provided as part of the majority of HIPs.
In order to maximise the potential of HIPs in providing consumers with the information they want, we will develop in partnership with the property professionals, means for capturing consumer friendly information for inclusion within the HIP. This will draw on the lessons learnt from our Area Trials and consumer focus groups.
Industry stakeholders are also actively developing complementary initiatives to build on the content of the HIP, including an “exchange ready pack” - a pack with consumer-facing documents and legal information, including a draft contract to enable swift exchange and completion once an offer has been accepted. We will continue to work with our Stakeholder Panel to consider this and other initiatives for building on the quality of the HIP.
We recognise that many agents are not showing prospective buyers the HIP and that consumers are not requesting to see it. We have asked the industry to respond to this consumer need by working with us to promote higher and consistent standards of practice that delivers better services to consumers, and to raise consumer awareness of the service standards they should expect and what they can do if things go wrong. In particular we will:

* work with our Stakeholder Panel to support the RICS, the Law Society, the NAEA and other stakeholders who are currently exploring what can be done to bring together best practice into a single set of standards that consumers can expect from property professionals in the home buying and selling process;

* work with the industry to ensure that agents and HIP providers understand and act on the requirement to prepare the “basic HIP” as soon as the EPC is produced, so that it is available to potential buyers early in the process; and

* consider what more might be needed to ensure that consumers are protected throughout the home buying and selling process.

I believe these measures will provide greater certainty and stability to consumers and industry about the operation of HIPs.

Code for Sustainable Homes

01/05/2008

The Code for Sustainable Homes (the Code) is an assessment and rating system for new homes. It aims to improve the overall sustainability of new homes by establishing a single national framework within which the home building industry can design and construct homes to higher environmental standards.

It is not compulsory for every new home to be built to the Code. However, from 1 May 2008 it will be compulsory for every new home in England to have a rating against the Code and for information on this rating to be provided to prospective purchasers through the HIP. This rating will make it clear whether the home has been built to the Code or not, and if it has, what standard it has achieved.

To facilitate this, from 1 May 2008, the HIP will either have to contain i) a certificate (or interim certificate) showing the rating that the home has received in respect of the Code or ii) a nil-rated certificate showing that the home has only been designed to meet current Building Regulations.

Where a home has been built to the Code, a Code certificate showing the star rating will be available from the licensed Code assessor who carried out the assessment. Where the home has not been built to the Code, the nil-rated certificate, provided free of charge here, can be downloaded, completed and included in the HIP.

HIP net cast over New Property

06/04/2008

The Housing Act 2004 (Commencement No.11) (England and Wales) Order 2008 was made on 13 March and comes into force on 6 April 2008. This completes the application of HIPs to all new build properties. The HIP duties currently apply to all types of property sale, including the sale of new homes but excluding homes built under the most recent Building Regulations (i.e. Regulation 17C of the Building Regulations 2006). We have previously announced the intention to extend the HIP duties to these properties from 6th April, when the requirement under the 2007 EPBD Regulation for all new homes to have a SAP-based EPC on construction come into effect, and the Order achieves this.

Key facts


From the 6 April 2008 all new homes will require an EPC and Recommendation Report when physically complete.
The EPC will be based on the SAP rating which is currently required to comply with Building Regulations. This demonstrates that new homes meet the targets for energy performance that are part of the Building Regulations.
The EPC must be produced by an Energy Assessor who is accredited for On Construction Energy Assessment. The EPC is based on SAP rather than RdSAP which is used for existing homes.
When the home is physically complete, an EPC should be produced and given to the owner of the home. Building Control will not issue a completion certificate until they are sure this has been done.
If you are marketing a home off-plan, you will need to have a PEA (Predicted Energy Assessment) in the HIP to provide to potential buyers. Once the home is physically complete the PEA in the HIP should be replaced with an EPC and Recommendation Report.
PEAs should be based on the predicted SAP rating for the home. This will be available from calculations done at the design stage and is a number between 1 and 100. A spreadsheet template is available to be able to represent the rating in a graphical form for potential buyers.
Each building within a development will require its own EPC (although reports can be cloned for identical dwellings and will not need to be inspected individually).
Read the leaflet: Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) and New Homes: A Builder’s Guide at
http://www.home-information.info/doc?id=135

Whats in your HIP?

30/03/2008

Confusion has arisen over the precise nature of the the documents required for the HIP, in particular relating to the Register.

Regulation 8(e) of the Home Information Pack (No.2) Regulations 2007 requires that the following documents be included in the Pack where the property (or part of it) is registered at Land Registry:

An official copy of the individual register relating to the property (made up of a property register, proprietorship register and typically a charges register); and an official copy of the title plan relating to the property.

Some HIP providers are including simply the Register View rather than the 'official copy' required by law.

For further information on what constitutes an ‘official copy’, go to
http://www.home-information.info/doc?id=137