Estate agents in Manchester are accused of flouting laws about showing details of energy standards for every property they advertise.
This means prospective renters and buyers are in the dark about how draughty or well insulated homes are – and whether they would be spending thousands of pounds more on energy bills.
A study of estate agents in January 2014 suggests only seven of 241 agents in the city showed EPC ratings on all of their properties, a tiny 3%.
A whopping 64 agents – nearly a third – apparently displayed EPC ratings on none of their listings, while almost half (46%) had them on 1 in 5 or fewer listings.
The report by by Manchester Friends of the Earth and campaign group 10:10 raises the question of how many estate agents across the country may also be breaching the rules and risking punitive fines.
Any building for sale or rent must include the energy performance indicator – either the full chart or just the letter rating A-G – in newspapers and magazines, leaflets and on the internet.
The Department for Communities and Local Government says anyone advertising “without including the energy performance rating, where it is available, may be liable for a fine of £200”.
This is per property, for every day a property is posted without one. But a company is not likely to be penalised if an energy performance rating had been ordered but not yet completed.
The DCLG added: “It is the duty of local Trading Standards Officers to enforce this requirement under the recently amended Energy Performance of Buildings (England and Wales) Regulations 2012.”
ELN contacted a handful of the 20 estate agents with the most properties published on website Rightmove during the research period. None officially responded to our questions about EPCs.
“People don’t ask us about energy”
However one Manchester estate agent who preferred to remain anonymous told ELN: “It’s a legal requirement, when I list a property I don’t put it up without one.”
They said house hunters were rarely interested in energy information and had been asked only “once or twice” about it: “Most people don’t take it into consideration… If I’m honest we don’t get asked that much.”
Not many people seemed to be aware about the EPCs, the estate agent added.
The industry body took a different view though and said energy was a growing issue for people.
Mark Hayward, Managing Director of the National Association of Estate Agents said: “Energy efficiency is becoming an increasingly important consideration for house hunters as bills represent substantial cost of living. Estate agents are obligated to provide an energy performance certificate (EPC) as part of the requirements outlined in the Housing Act of 2004.”
He added: “We fully expect our members to comply with the law in this regard and NAEA training courses ensure our agents maintain industry-leading expertise.”