More for your money

Among all the other headlines in the property world you would have been forgiven for not noticing the introduction of energy performance certificates (EPC) for rental properties.

Following on from December’s introduction of Home Reports, on 4 January 2009 it became compulsory for every landlord letting residential to have an EPC in place giving an energy efficiency rating for their property.

But will it make a difference to its rentability?

David Alexander of D J Alexander says that it is a move in the right direction. “EPC’s will not do any harm, if you can set aside the £100 cost to landlords actively letting to tenants,” he said. “However, it will alter the attitudes of buyers and tenants, up to a point.”

Alexander thinks that at the upper end of the market, the Georgian terrace in Edinburgh’s New Town or Victorian villa in Glasgow’s Kelvinside, EPC’s are likely to have little or no effect. “With the best will in the world, there is only so much one can do to improve the energy efficiency of period homes, therefore a ‘low-rated’ EPC report will not put people off renting a period home if this is the type of property on which their hears are set,” he said.

But Alexander believes that properties built post-1930 present more opportunities for improving energy efficiency. To test this, his company carried out a “before and after” assessment on a house, typical of the Thirties and Forties suburban design, in the Crewe Toll area of Edinburgh. Installing cavity walling and a new gas central heating system moved the energy efficiency rating from band E to band B. The estimated annual cost of heating and hot water, meanwhile, fell from £780 to £192, a saving of almost of almost £600, a figure which might tempt would-be tenants looking for a bargain.

He also believes that such rating may help newer property on the letting or selling market. “The EPC may provide something of a lifeline for new-build flats on the Leith Waterfront and Glasgow Harbour, which have taken a hammering in terms of falling capital values, because these developments should have some of the lower energy costs per square foot.”

He adds: “People will still base their choice of housing on the basis of location but once that has been made, from now on their final decision could very well depend on which property rating has the best energy rating.”

THE SCOTSMAN, 29 January 2009