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‘Common sense approach’ needed for calculating EPC ratings of historic properties

The process of making historic properties more eco-friendly to comply with new government guidelines needs to be overhauled, a leading property consultancy has urged.

The Government is currently in consultation regarding proposed updates to the existing Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) which aims to increase the existing Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to at least ‘C’ by 2025 for all new lettings as part of its net-zero strategy, and 2028 for all existing let dwellings.

Fisher German, which manages a wide portfolio of historic properties across the UK on behalf of many landlords, is calling for a common-sense approach to improving old properties which may not be listed.

Tiffany Radford-Hancock, Associate Partner at Fisher German who manages various estates across the country, felt the recommendations given by EPC assessors in many cases were not practical for the kinds of properties the company manages.

She said: “It is clearly very important the Government puts in place policies to achieve net-zero for the good of the environment, but in practice a lot of the ideas are simply untenable for historic properties.

“We are being given recommendations by EPC assessors that, at best, are difficult to implement and, in some cases, are completely impractical. One told us to erect a wind turbine and install solar panels on a listed building, which would alter its historic character and be extremely challenging to obtain consent for under the existing planning regulations.

“In other cases, recommendations given by assessors wouldn’t even get properties to a ‘C’ rating anyway, leaving landlords powerless.

“We are trying to do what we can, but many of the properties on the estates we manage date back to the 18th and 19th century.  Retrofitting them to earn an ‘E’ on an EPC rating was extremely challenging, so getting them to a ‘C’ is even harder.

“Prices of materials have also skyrocketed over the last couple of years, which makes this process incredibly expensive. And the cost estimates given to us by assessors for their recommended improvements are frequently far less than the actual cost.”

Tiffany feels more support is needed from the Government when it comes to historic properties.

“There needs to be further exemptions for listed buildings and those in conservation areas, and an understanding that an EPC rating cannot be a one-size-fits-all tick list,” she added.

“Often, solutions that would make sense for newer, urban homes are nearly impossible to apply to older, historic properties, and often would require the tenant to vacant the property to safely install the EPC recommendations such as floor and internal wall insulation.

“We are hoping the government sees sense on this and alters how it calculates EPC ratings for historic properties. We all have a role to play in helping the environment, but it needs to be done in a sensible way.”

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