Monday, September 01, 2008

The elephant strikes again

The fragile housing market faces a fresh setback in the autumn, reports The Telegraph yesterday.

New regulations, we are told, could force tens of thousands of sellers to take their homes off the market when, from October, it will be illegal to sell homes without an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Now, this we all know to be an EU requirement based on Directive 2002/91/EC - all of us, it would seem, except The Telegraph.

According to this paper, the EPC is merely "a piece of paperwork introduced as part of the Government's controversial Home Information Pack (HIP) scheme." No mention of the EU, no mention of a directive – just "a piece of paperwork".

As to the current problem, the paper tells us that, since HIPs were introduced last December it has been a legal requirement for all sellers to obtain one, but the requirement did not apply to sellers whose homes were already on the market. Now, it appears, the Department for Communities and Local Government has warned that homes already on the market must be withdrawn from sale in October unless their sellers obtain EPCs.

With the large number of unsold houses on the market, due to the weak state of the property market, many sellers are now going to be hit once more with the cost of providing certificates.

Since they are being put to this cost and great inconvenience, you would have thought that the paper could inform us of the source of this new law. But that is not for us to know, it seems.

However, there is all the more reason for knowing what is going on as the implementation of the EU directive includes more than an element of gold plating.

Under Article 7 of the Directive, member states are required to ensure that, "when buildings are constructed, sold or rented out, an energy performance certificate is made available to the owner or by the owner to the prospective buyer or tenant, as the case might be."

This, according to one of our readers, is interpreted in France a requirement to provide a certificate just before the equivalent of completion of the contract. The purchaser has a right to renegotiate or rescind the contract if the reports are significantly negative.

In the UK, though, the requirement is imposed before the property is offered for sale – something the Directive does not demand. And further – something for the future – the Directive requires only that the certificate be renewed every ten years so there is no need for a new certificate each time a property is sold.

None of this we ever get from the MSM which drone on in their dreary way, with cheap, ill-informed journalism which simply fills space. No wonder the elephant survives and is in such rude health.