26/7/2013 EPC scam catches ex-pats out in Spain

New requirements for energy efficiency certificates in Spain have led to unqualified assessors taking advantage of unsuspecting homeowners.

The Spanish government introduced legislation last month anybody selling or renting a property to have an EPC.  Under the new legislation, a property must be rated for energy efficiency by a registered assessor, much like energy performance certificates in the UK.

Any home built before 2007 will require an energy efficiency rating, while those built after this date should already have one. However, industry experts have warned that Spain is rife with unqualified assessors offering cheap certificates while others are “guaranteeing’’ an A-rating which is illegal or issuing the certificate without even visiting the property.   

 The fact that many people do not understand whether or not they need a certificate is only adding to the confusion.  Even though all new homes built after 2007 should already have the energy certificate, some Spanish regions were negligent in enforcing the legislation, so some new homes won’t have one.   A certificate must be issued by an architect, engineer or a qualified technician who is authorised to undertake building projects and thermal installations for buildings. Not all architects and engineers are certified.

The professional must belong to an official provincial association and have a membership number. The price should be between €200 and €300 euros per home (£170 and £260).

Tony Poole, a British electrician who has lived near Alicante for the past 12 years, said: “We know the scammers are out there, evident by reports from official sources, but people may not realise they have been scammed just yet. Not until they try to register the certificate with the local government authority, or they try to sell their home with an unauthorised certificate.’’

Once a certificate has been issued it needs to be registered with the local Spanish authority. Procedures differ between regional governments with some requiring a fee of about €30 (£26). When the registration is approved, an energy label is issued which can then be made available to real estate agents, prospective buyers or tenants. Anyone found in breach of the new legislation is liable to be prosecuted, with fines up to €6,000 (£5,170).