Energy Bill

Memorandum submitted by Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) (EN 02)

Energy Bill Public Bill Committee: Green Deal

RICS welcome the objectives of the Bill, whilst acknowledging that effective implementation by appropriately qualified professionals will be needed if the Energy Bill is to support a greener, sustainable property sector.

RICS members are experts in all aspects of the built and natural environment and are ideally placed to advise on the technical details of the Green Deal, particularly the development of the qualifications, accreditation and documentation required to ensure the success of the scheme. RICS is a member of a number of DECC Stakeholder Advisory Forums including the Maximising Energy Efficiency in Buildings Forum and the Green Deal Advice, Accreditation and Qualification Forum. RICS has also been providing independent, expert advice on the implications of the Bill for the private rented sector to stakeholder groups.

RICS members are ideally place to cascade down Green Deal measures to the property and built environment profession to encourage take up of the Green Deal, particularly to help demonstrate a clearer link between the energy efficiency of a property and its value – vital to the success of the scheme. RICS would be pleased to offer the Bill Committee its views on how this could be achieved.

Green Deal Assessors: Part 1, Clause 4

RICS welcomes the proposals for the introduction of Green Deal Assessors, who will survey properties and recommend energy efficiency improvements.

RICS calls for Green Deal Assessors to remain wholly independent of those selling the Green Deal improvements in order to ensure that the consumer receives independent and accurate advice

RICS recognises that existing energy qualification and accreditation arrangements need to be upgraded in order that Assessors are able to offer a holistic view of each property and the improvements required. Assessors need an in-depth knowledge of a wide range of construction and property matters to understand the implications of, for example, working in a Conservation Area or on a Listed Building.

If Assessors are not equipped with this knowledge, the Green Deal risks repeating the mistakes made with the implementation of the Home Condition Report.

The evidence supporting using Assessors already working in the built environment industry leading to greater accuracy is clear. The percentage of EPCs subject to corrective action is much lower for assessors who already worked in the built environment industry than for those who came via the direct qualification route.

Energy Performance Certificates: Part 1, Clause 8

The success of the Green Deal will be reliant on availability of robust information.

RICS recognises that the current EPC methodology needs to be improved to take into account a greater number of variations in buildings, particularly in the commercial sector. EPCs do not currently take into account how to change consumer behaviour.

RICS calls on the Government to ensure that the new EPCs, or their replacement document, contain an obligation for consumers to act on the assessment contained in the EPC. This will require clear evidence that making energy improvements improves property values.

Energy Performance Certificates and data transparency: Part 5, Clauses 70 and 71

RICS believes all property data, including energy performance, should be made available to consumers and professionals in as simple and transparent a way as possible. This would help to support Green Deal initiatives by assisting in targeting measures to where it is needed most. It would also help purchasers and tenants in making objective judgments about properties if they could compare not just those on the market at the time, but also existing stock in the neighbourhood where EPCs had been produced.

RICS is developing a Guidance Note on Sustainability and Value in the Residential Market to feed into the consultation process and will continue to consult with members to offer best practice to Government.

Private Rented Sector: Chapter 2, Clauses 35-42

RICS welcomes the Government’s proposed review of how far the private rented sector has voluntarily embraced energy efficiency. Take up in the private rented sector will be crucial to the success of the Green Deal. However, in undertaking this review, the Government needs to take into account that their measures may not have had adequate time to take effect.

RICS urges the Government to put in place clear incentives coupled with appropriate statutory measures to encourage landlords to carry out improvements and to ensure widespread take up.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) is the world’s largest organisation for professionals in property, land, construction and related environmental issues. RICS members are involved in every aspect of the built and natural environment, including planning and development, valuation, managing public and private sector assets and investment advice, acting for major urban and rural property owners and occupiers, and planning and delivery of infrastructure projects.

RICS regulates and maintains the professional standards of over 91,000 qualified members (FRICS, MRICS and AssocRICS) and over 50,000 trainee and student members. It regulates and promotes the work of these property professionals throughout 146 countries and is governed by a Royal Charter which requires it to act in the public interest.

RICS Valuation Information Papers

Valuation information papers are intended to provide information and explanations to RICS members on specific topics of relevance to the profession. The function of valuation information papers is not to recommend or advise on professional procedures to be followed by surveyors.

They are, however, relevant to professional competence to the extent that a surveyor should be up to date and should have informed him or herself of new valuation information papers within a reasonable time of their promulgation.

Members should note that when an allegation of professional negligence is made against a surveyor, the court is likely to take account of the contents of any relevant valuation information papers published by the RICS in deciding whether or not the surveyor has acted with reasonable competence.

RICS Guidance Notes

RICS Guidance Notes provide advice to RICS members on aspects of their profession. Where procedures are recommended for specific professional tasks, these are intended to embody ‘best practice’, i.e. procedures which in the opinion of RICS meet a high standard of professional competence. Members are not required to follow the advice and recommendations contained in the guidance note. Members are required however, to note that when an allegation of professional negligence is made against a surveyor, the court is likely to take account of the contents of any relevant guidance notes published by RICS in deciding whether or not the surveyor had acted with reasonable competence. In the opinion of RICS, members conforming to the practices recommended in guidance notes should have at least a partial defence to an allegation of negligence by virtue of having followed those practices. However, members have the responsibility of deciding when it is inappropriate to follow the guidance. If it is followed in an inappropriate case, the member will not be exonerated merely because the recommendations were found in an RICS guidance note.

June 2011

Prepared 8th June 2011