Two major lenders have reported a strong uptake in the first month of the government's extended Help to Buy mortgage guarantee scheme.
Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Halifax said they had received a total of 2,384 applications, potentially worth £365m in mortgages.
The scheme is designed to encourage lenders to offer mortgages with deposits as low as 5%.
But critics are concerned it could help to create a UK housing bubble.
RBS and its subsidiary NatWest, and Halifax - owned by Lloyds Banking Group - are among the few lenders to offer mortgages under the government's extended scheme.
From 6 April 2012 a redesigned version of the current Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will enter circulation. The redesign has been created to highlight the Green Deal showing key recommendations for improvements of energy efficiency and their cost implication.
These changes were due to come in on 1 July 2011 but have been put back repeatedly while the Communities and Local Government department (CLG) iron out the finer details. The full proposed changes to the legislation are listed below.
PROPOSED CHANGES TO THE ENERGY PERFORMANCE OF BUILDINGS (CERTIFICATES AND INSPECTIONS) (ENGLAND AND WALES) REGULATIONS 2007 (THE EPB REGULATIONS)
1. Summary of the changes to the EPB Regulations
The changes to the EPB Regulations can be summarised as follows:
• the changes will extend the current requirements to commission an EPC that apply to residential buildings to all residential and non residential buildings when sold or rented out;
• the requirements for the provision of an EPC with written particulars will be extended to all buildings sold or rented out and the option to attach the asset rating will be removed. The requirement will only extend to the first page of the EPC (the EPC consists of two pages, accompanied by four pages of recommendations); and
• the requirement for the statutory lodgement of air conditioning inspection reports onto the central EPC Register.
The following summary details the main changes that will be made in relation to EPCs.
2. Commissioning an EPC before marketing
A number of changes will be made to regulation 5A of the EPB Regulations. In general, the onus remains on the ‘relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to commission an EPC before marketing. The main changes are as follows:
• the duty to commission an EPC before marketing will be extended to the sale and rent of residential and non-residential buildings;
• the current 28 day period within which an EPC is to be secured using ‘reasonable efforts’ will be reduced to 7 days;
• if after that 7 day period the EPC has not been secured the relevant person will have a further 21 days in which to do so.
3. Power to Require the Production of Documents
Trading Standards Officers (TSOs) currently have the power to require the ‘relevant person’ (i.e. the seller or landlord) to produce copies of the EPC for inspection and to take copies if necessary. The power to require the production of documents will be extended to include persons acting on behalf of the seller or landlord – e.g. estate agents and letting agents. This means, for example, that TSOs will be authorised to require estate agents to produce evidence showing that an EPC has been commissioned where they are marketing a building without one.
4 Clarifying when an EPC is required
This technical amendment to Regulation 5 is intended to remove the erroneous belief that the provision of the EPC can be delayed until shortly before the parties enter into a contract for sale or rent. This will be achieved by deleting the words “before entering into a contract to sell or rent the building or, if sooner” in Regulation 5(2)(b) of the EPB Regulations.
5. Consequential changes
A number of consequential changes will be made to enable TSOs to enforce the new duties.
6. EPC Information in Written Particulars
Currently, for residential sales only, the relevant person or his agent is under a duty to either attach the EPC to written particulars or include the asset rating on those particulars. The amendments will require the EPC to be attached to written particulars in relation to buildings sold or rented out. The option to include the asset rating will no longer apply.
The existing definition of ‘written particulars’ will be expanded to ensure that particulars produced for rented out buildings and commercial properties are captured by the new requirements.
As an exception to this requirement, provision is made to allow the person subject to the duty to provide the written particulars to omit the address of the building from a copy of the EPC where the address has been omitted from those particulars.
We had aimed to bring most of these proposed changes into force on 1 July, with the exception of the change described in paragraph 6 which would have taken effect in relation to properties marketed after 1st October 2011.
It has not been possible to introduce changes on 1 July, however, and it is now our intention to bring the changes into force as soon as possible.
Agents have expressed their concerns over the changes as no guidance has been issued by CLG regarding what is required in full printed property particulars, summary lists or on the internet. In fact many agents have stated that there is now not enough time to implement changes to marketing software and procedures in time for the 6 April deadline.
A Property & Energy Professionals Association (PEPA) spokesperson said: “The new EPC regulations that come into force in April were laid down in law last year and clearly stipulate the changes that will be introduced.
“While agents may still be waiting for the final guidance notes from the Government, these will not change the clear and unambiguous requirement for the first page of the EPC to be attached to the property particulars.
“We are sure that the relevant trade bodies representing the estate agency industry will have been advising their members accordingly.
“PEPA and its members have been preparing for these changes for many months, and the new regulations will have a significant impact on the energy professionals who produce EPCs.
“Domestic Energy Assessors are required to complete and pass a further training module if they wish to continue producing EPCs beyond April 6, and more than enough DEAs will be qualified by the deadline.
“Our members have also taken the necessary steps to ensure they will be able to produce the new-style EPC in the revised, shortened time period, when the new regulations come into force next month.
“The changes are being introduced to allow consumers to make a more informed decision about the future property they may purchase or rent, while helping to improve the energy efficiency of our buildings.
“Research has proved that 15% of consumers seeing an EPC will implement at least one of the recommendations that it contains to improve energy efficiency and to save on their bills.
“We believe there has been adequate time for all parties to prepare for these changes and it is important that we now all work together to embrace the new regulations and the positive impact they could have in terms of reducing the UK’s carbon emissions.”
Although the reasons behind that change are seen to be valid the execution may take more time than origionally hoped. scottfraser provide copies of our full EPC certificates on our website for all rental properties and, software dependent, hope to be able to do this for sales properties by the deadline.
If you are a landlord or seller and are concerned about the changes in regulations please contact one of our Branch Managers Direct.
Administrator - Summertown Lettings & Property Management Office
01865 554577 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Estate Agent Today, CLG