A large number of charities may be occupiers, or owners, of listed buildings, perhaps due to the age of some charitable institutions, or their accommodation requirements. It is a widely held view in the market that, where a transaction that would usually need an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) (such as a sale or most types of leases) relates to a listed building, the requirement for an EPC does not apply.
However, our view is that this widely held opinion is a misinterpretation of Regulation 5 of the EPC Regulations, which is the regulation relied upon for exemption. Regulation 5 is only a qualified exemption for listed buildings, and applies only where “compliance with certain minimum energy performance requirements would unacceptably alter [the building’s] character or appearance”.
Unhelpfully, there is little clarity from the Government to help with the interpretation of the exemption, one point being that it is not clear whose judgement is to be taken into account as to whether the requirements would unacceptably alter the building’s character or appearance.
Our view is that, save in the possible case of a grade one listed building, there must always be scope to do at least some well thought out and sympathetic energy improvements which do not lead to unacceptable alteration of a building’s character and appearance and, therefore, this will lead to the requirement to obtain an EPC.
Failure of a seller or landlord to obtain an EPC when it is required could result in enforcement action by the local Trading Standard Officers, leading to a penalty of up to £5,000. The level of such a penalty certainly makes it an issue of which charity trustees should be aware and explore with any property agent that they instruct.