In guidance published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) it was made clear that properties put on the market will still be required to obtain an EPC before being sold, let or built.
It added that assessments should only be conducted where the work is essential.
A valid EPC is legally required when a property is sold, let or constructed and must be completed by an accredited assessor unless an exemption can be applied.
Landlords and sellers have seven days to obtain a valid EPC from the day the property is marketed, with a further 21 days grace period allowed if all reasonable efforts have been made to obtain one, but it has not been possible.
Restriction of movement laws and social distancing practices which have resulted in almost all valuers and surveyors stopping in-person property surveys are likely to have severely hampered EPC assessors as well.
Endeavour to delay transactions
In its guidance today, MHCLG reiterated that unnecessary visitors should not be invited into homes or into those let to tenants.
It said that where a property is occupied, parties must endeavour to agree that the transaction can be delayed, so that an EPC assessment can proceed when stay-at-home measures to fight coronavirus (COVID-19) are no longer in place.
“If moving is unavoidable and the parties are unable to reach an agreement to delay, and a valid EPC is not available from the register, an assessment may need to be conducted,” it continued.
“In these circumstances, government guidelines on staying away from others to minimise the spread of the virus must be followed alongside the guidance for carrying out work in people’s homes.
“EPC assessments can continue in cases where a domestic property is vacant,” it added.
No assessments should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.
And if securing an EPC is critical the appointment should be rescheduled to when it is safe to do so in accordance with government guidelines on staying away from others.
Only where essential
MHCLG told assessors that EPC assessments can continue, but some buying and selling transactions may be delayed.
“Where transactions continue, they must meet the criteria and assessments should only be conducted where an individual believes the work is essential and meets the criteria for leaving the home, and in accordance with government social distancing guidance,” it said.
“No assessments should take place if any person in the property is showing symptoms, self-isolating or being shielded.
“If you are unable to undertake an assessment for which you have been booked, you should seek to reschedule your appointment when it is safe to do so,” it added.