Landlords face added pressure

The Government’s decision to delay the deadline for some buildings to have energy performance certificates (EPCs) will not tackle the long delays developers and landlords face having reports prepared.
EPCs and their accompanying recommendations reports were due to become legal requirements for all properties being sold, rented or modified after 1 October.
Now the Government has announced that commercial properties which are already on the market will be given until 4 January 2009 to get an EPC, unless a deal to rent or sell that property is agreed beforehand.
While they welcome the fact that the move will reduce the sudden surge in demand for reports to be signed off next week, experts warn that the extended deadline does not address the underlying problem.
According to Jim Costello, industry director of consulting engineer Hulley & Kirkwood, the major problem facing the property industry is that there are too few assessors accredited to sign off the reports. As a result, there is already a backlog of reports waiting to be signed off – and while extending the deadline might ease the pressure, it doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem, namely the shortage in assessors
Jim said: “Extending the deadline for some buildings is a welcome relief for a relatively small number of developers or landlords. What it doesn’t do is solve the causes of the backlog. What they don’t seem to understand is that this problem could quite easily and quickly be rectified. The problem isn’t caused by a shortage of skills but by an abundance of red tape.”
Jim argues that the cause of the delays in having reports signed off to date is that those with the skills to do the job are being forced to undergo unnecessary additional training to become officially accredited by one of the relevant schemes.
Scotland too faces inevitable backlogs, but here these delays should be mitigated to an extent by automatically allowing chartered engineers with the appropriate skills and right level of proven experience to complete the certificates.
With existing pressures on the property market, Jim argues that a more effective way of easing pressure on the industry would be to implement the same scheme regarding accreditation in England and Wales to ease the current shortfall.
He added: “Because there are easily the number of people with the right skills to do the job, those who will be hit hardest by delays – landlords and developers – possibly aren’t aware that this is going to be a problem.
“Even with this extension, there is already a backlog and that will only get worse, further increasing the amount of time it takes to get a report completed. All we are calling for is that the Government goes one step further and supports those professionals who already have the skills to cut through this red tape, even if only temporarily.
“By doing so, they could increase the number of assessors overnight without calling the validity of the scheme into doubt, and clear one of the factors which would otherwise add unnecessary pressure on an already-struggling sector of industry. After all, it is by taking real steps like this that the Government is most likely to see the change in attitudes towards energy use which they claim they want for the UK.”