1st June tomorrow, when according to the official national bulletin regulations, all properties going to a notary for sale or lease must have an energy efficiency certificate.
However, to say that the situation is unclear as a major understatement! I have been trying to keep my finger on the pulse of this and not only is the pulse weak, the vein seems to move! I have also received considerable correspondence from others with various opinions. I therefore summarise my understanding of the current situation as follows.
1. The regulation is definitely in place and states that as from 1 June 2013, all properties over 50 sq m and all leases of more than 4 months must present an energy efficiency certificate as part of the package of papers for the transaction to be notarised and put into the property Registry. (Without being in a Registry, it is only a private contract between the registered owner and the 1st buyer and, though committing fraud, the registered owner could sell the property again to a 2nd buyer and if that 2nd buyer registers the property before the first one, the 2nd buyer is the legal owner and the 1st buyer only has the right to sue the initial seller, who has gained two sale prices and may well have disappeared! There are variations to that of course depending upon occupation, etc, but very simply that’s the situation).
2. There has been a press report stating that the date has been deferred by 3 months, but so far I have had no formal confirmation of that from any Colegio members or registrars. It appears that the deferment may only be with regard to the fines being levied for non-compliance and not the requirement. (The fines vary from 300 to 6,000€ euro depending upon circumstances, with the upper limit being increased indefinitely depending upon the decision of the court that the benefit gained from not having produced the energy certificate is more than the fine being levied).
3. Within the regulation there is an obligation for the seller and the agent to make a CEE available to buyers and users of the buildings, IF requested by the buyer. This has been interpreted by some as meaning that if the buyer didn’t request then there is no need to have it available to be provided – I see this as a high risk strategy as when the CEE ‘mystery shopping’ inspector comes to call he/she will undoubtedly request the certificate. If you don’t have it, both agent and seller can be fined. (I foresee some interesting squabbles regarding provision of the certificate where there is multiagency and one agency has obtained the certificate and does not want to release it to others, but I will leave that for another blog).
4. I have also read that the Junta de Andalucía have stated that they have responsibility for the regulation coming into effect and that they do not have the offices in place or operating as yet and they will set their own timetable. (The procedure is that the surveyor inspects the property taking a substantial amount of detailed information, inputs that into the comprehensive computer program and prints out a certificate with the rating shown on it, which is split into energy consumption for heating and cooling. A shortened version of the information is then sent to his or her Colegio for confirmation. When that is returned it is then sent to the Junta offices for the official stamp. Only once that has been received can the owners say that they have a current certificate. I understand that the Colegios are organised, but that the Junta is not).
5. There is an interpretation of the regulation that states that only one certificate is required for a multi-occupation building, such as a block of flats that have been constructed at the same time and all of the same specification. That will work for new developments, but I cannot see that it can be appropriate for all the properties where windows may have been replaced, balconies enclosed, air conditioning fitted, boilers renewed, etc, etc.
6. With regard to the surveyors’ fees, these vary considerably as they must do according to the work involved. It’s obviously going to be much more for a large individual villa than for an individual studio apartment. All appear to be based on square metres and to start in the region of 200€ euro rising to 600€ euro or more for larger properties. Some have a maximum fee whilst others state that it is negotiable for larger properties. (As someone who gets paid for the time involved, my sympathies are with that latter situation as a villa of 1,500 sq m is undoubtedly going to take more time than one of 800 sq m, and remember that the surveyor has also to put forward recommendations for improvements).
So, despite all the doubt, the one certainty is that a certificate will be required sooner or later and so clients have to be informed of that and urged to obtain it. Agents are taking a personal risk displaying property without a certificate.
Good luck to all those going to the notary next week! (I’m waiting on a response regarding the latest notary Colegio instructions to their members and will put that up as soon as it is received).
LATEST – news from the Notary. “While the Junta de Andalucía does not prepare the registry office, the Notary cannot request the CEE. There will have to be an agreement between the parties for its inclusion in the escritura when appropriate.” I think that the practical results of that should be that the new owner will request the seller to obtain the CEE before they take occupation or discount the price for the cost of obtaining the certificate.