Just as the 2011 holiday season was getting underway the government’s policy on Energy Performance Certificates for holiday lets descended into chaos amid conflicting legal opinions and accusations of lack of consultation.
The growing muddle on the issue has involved a government department, two trading standards advice bodies, at least one trading standards department and holiday lets owners and their association.
The problems began in February, when the Department of Communities and Local Government issued guidance on the subject, saying that holiday lets are covered by the 2007 EPB regulations – even though they are not specifically mentioned in them – and therefore they require EPCs.
Oddly, although the government were claiming that holiday lets had always been liable to have EPCs, the guidance set a date of 30 June 2011 by which an EPC was needed. Before this date, presumably, an EPC is not required, even though the government is saying it has been a legal requirement since 1 October 2008, when the 2007 EPB regulations came into force. It is hardly surprising that this has caused some confusion. It is also unclear what the status of the 30 June deadline is, since no new regulations are being passed in relation to holiday lets.
The Trading Standards Institute argue that the DCLG suddenly issued guidance without any consultation with them or trading standards advisers, stating that holiday let’s DO require EPCs. Their advisers believe a holiday let is hired not rented, and should therefore be exempt from the requirement to have an EPC.
This view is supported by owners’ group The English Association of Self Catering Operators, which obtained legal advice from a senior barrister, who told them: ‘It is very unlikely that an EPC is necessary and that any local authority is going to take the DCLG’s view and launch a prosecution.’
While the debate continues, Trading Standards Departments across the country currently seem united in their view to wait until an agreement between the governing bodies has been put forward, meaning owners have little to worry about for the moment.