An online letting agent has defended its failure to display EPC ratings on some of its Rightmove listings, after EYE uncovered several examples of properties for which no rating was displayed, some of which had been on the market for months.
A reader contacted EYE to complain that online letting agent OpenRent was posting listings on Rightmove without providing details of an EPC rating.
EYE investigated and found that of OpenRent’s 48 most recent listings (as of February 16), seven did not have an EPC rating.
OpenRent responded that EPCs had been commissioned and would be added once a rating had been provided.
A spokesperson for OpenRent said: “As I’m sure you’re aware, the law in England and Wales is that an EPC has been ordered before it is marketed. It is not a legal requirement that the EPC has been completed or an efficiency grade awarded before it is marketed.
“As such the properties you’ve highlighted will be ones where the EPC is currently being obtained.
“Naturally as soon as a report is completed and the rating provided, this is added to the property advert; and further, as the law requires, the EPC must be completed and a copy of the report provided to the tenant before they move in.”
Government guidance allows a seller, landlord or agent to “use all reasonable efforts” to ensure the EPC is obtained within seven days.
A further 21 days is allowed “if after using all reasonable efforts the EPC cannot be obtained within seven days”.
The guidance adds: “The energy performance indicator of the building as shown on the EPC, for example, C, must be stated in any advertisements in the commercial media.
“Failure to do so could result in a fine of £200 per advertisement.”
While the majority of OpenRent’s older listings do carry an EPC rating, EYE found more examples of older adverts on Rightmove that did not have an EPC rating and sent them to OpenRent.
One was over 60 days old and the other over 150 days old.
The spokesperson said the examples looked “odd” and the company immediately updated them.
He added: “Checking over a set of our older ads this situation looks very rare (I can’t find any further examples other than those two, please let me know if you see any others), so I’m not sure what was stopping the EPC rating appearing on all sites.
“We are investigating to make sure something isn’t systematically stopping ratings being updated in Rightmove adverts as soon as they’re available.”
EYE yesterday found another 12 examples of OpenRent listings that appeared not to contain an EPC rating, ranging from 118 days old to 90 days old.
When contacted again with these examples, the spokesperson said: “These properties do have EPCs, so the issue is the grade not being pulled through automatically as expected.
“We are looking into it and will be able to put a fix in once we establish what’s not working as expected.”
Meanwhile, OpenRent contended that it was not the only agent to post listings without an EPC rating, and highlighted three examples from the Golders Green office of Winkworth, in London.
Those listings ranged from 40 days old to 30 days old.
A spokesperson for Winkworth said: “We’ve found that this issue is down to an administrative error.
“The relevant people have been notified and are looking into why the EPC ratings for these properties were not displayed. We continue to train all of our franchisees and their staff to ensure that they comply fully with all rules and regulations.”
ARLA Propertymark chief executive David Cox said it was his view that prospective tenants should only be allowed to click through for “more information” on properties advertised on portals that have an EPC certificate displayed on the site.
He said: “An EPC must be commissioned before a property can be marketed either for sale or for rent. It should be obtained within seven days of the property being marketed, but if there are any issues, a further 21 days are permitted.
“Once the certificate has been obtained, it must appear on any advertisement in commercial media and made available to anyone who requests it, or anyone who is viewing the property.
“To make this clear, landlords or letting agents cannot show any prospective renters the property, nor can they share any written information, until the EPC is available.
He added: “In summary, it is unlawful to market a property for which an EPC has not been commissioned, and there are sanctions in place to prevent this from happening.”
A spokesperson for Rightmove said: “Agents must ensure all listings adhere to all relevant industry legislation.”
See below for one of OpenRent’s listings found yesterday by EYE, which appeared to have been posted without an EPC rating: