There are many positive aspects to living in a rural location and following the Covid-19 pandemic, the pull to live away from crowds is even stronger. However there are also challenges- one of those being where you source your heat and power. Quite frequently it is not possible to connect into the normal mains systems and this means that instead the owner has to rely on alternatives, such as heating oil or coal to heat their homes, as well as more recent innovations such as LPG or heat pumps. As an added bonus, these properties tend not to lend themselves to the usual overhauls required to make them more energy efficient - it can be prohibitively expensive.
From 2024, the Scottish Government are proposing that all owner occupied homes must reach an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of C before they can be sold. EPCs are not a new addition to the Scottish property landscape. They have been around since 2008 and any domestic property sold or marketed after 1st December 2008 required to have one in place prior to it going on the market.
An EPC report is a Certificate which shows the energy efficiency of a building based on the carbon emissions generated from the use of the building in its current condition. The rating of the building is shown in bands from A-G. A being very efficient, G being very inefficient. It also shows the rating which the building could achieve if energy saving measures are carried out to the building, such as the installation of double glazing or solar panels, improving the heating system, insulation or air conditioning system.
The aim is that the improvements suggested in the EPC will reduce the carbon omissions generated, save energy and make buildings more attractive to prospective buyers or tenants.
Problems can arise, however, in connection with rural homeowners due to the way in which the EPC ratings are calculated. I have lost count of the number of rural properties which I been involved with, which have the lowest EPC ratings and even if the owner carried out all the improvement works suggested in the EPC, it would not bring the rating up by a single band.
This, therefore, then raises another potential issue. If the owner carries out the improvement works (or cannot afford to carry out those works) and cannot bring the EPC rating up to a C, it is reasonable to presume that the property would be de-valued as a result. This has serious implications for the owners of rural houses and for the future of the rural property market as a whole.