Are you the owner of occupier of commercial real estate that the public visits? If so it may be that you should now be displaying your Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). If you are the seller or landlord of a listed building it may be that you do not need an EPC for your sale or lease! The reason is that we have new Energy Performance of Buildings Regulations and Government Guidance.

Who is caught by the obligation to display EPCs? Well it is not clear so it could be the owner or the occupier, so landlords and tenants should both assume they have to comply.

Which commercial buildings need to have an EPC displayed? Buildings bigger than 500m2 that are frequently visited by the public. The Guidance says the public would have to be visiting on a near daily basis and give the example of shops and restaurants. If there isn’t an EPC for the building (because so far no sale or letting has triggered the need to obtain an EPC) there is no need for the owner or occupier to get one specially. Shopping centre landlords and tenants may both have to display their EPCs (even if that means supplying the same information to the visiting members of the public). The public will see the building’s rating but not the energy consumed as the Regulations relating to the display of energy consumption information (in the form of Display Energy Certificates or DECs) applies only to public authority buildings visited by the public.

What are the penalties for a breach? Surprisingly the new Regulations have no sanction for breach of this particular Regulation but we anticipate this will have to change and that the Regulations will be amended. This oversight does give owners and occupiers time to organise the display of their EPCs.

Which listed buildings are exempt? It is almost impossible to answer that question because of the wording used in the Regulations and a test that refers to compliance with minimum energy requirements. Landlords and tenants of listed buildings wanting to play safe will probably find it easier to comply and obtain an EPC as it is not clear who could ever advise them that the building is definitely within the exemption. We hope the Regulations will be amended to clarify this exemption.

Any changes for agents? Under the previous Regulations there was a clear duty on agents to attach the first page of the EPC to the sales/lettings particulars. For buildings offered for sale or rent after 9 January 2013 any advertisement of the building must state its asset rating. Further lack of clarity in the Regulations means it is not clear if just specifying its rating will be sufficient or whether the graph showing the rating on the A to G scale will be required but showing the whole graph in the advertisement could not be wrong! The wording is such that it is not clear who the duty extends to and it could be the landlord/seller or their agent. Most agents are used to complying with the old Regulations and we recommend that they continue to do so.

The Regulations and Guidance contain many inconsistencies and are less clear than the old Regulations and Guidance. The penalty is still 12.5% of rateable value with a minimum of £500 and maximum of £5,000 but the hassle of dealing with the sanctions is likely to be the major factor for many of you.