FEARS OF NEW ‘CASH FOR RATINGS’ SCANDAL
25 April 2017
With less than a year to go to the introduction of Minimum Energy Standards there are fears that we could be heading into a ‘cash for ratings’ scandal which could seriously damage the energy assessment industry and defeat the whole object of the regulations.
Cases are coming to light of instances where it is claimed that landlords have had G rated premises – which should be unlettable from April 2018 – provided with another EPC with a much higher rating without any improvements being carried out to the buildings.
Despite past claims that thousands of domestic EPCs may be inaccurate due to ECO installers seeking ratings which would maximise installations revenue, it is not clear at present that accreditation bodies have procedures in place which would prevent a comparable scandal in the run-up to the introduction of MEES.
However leading accreditation body Elmhurst Energy said it would take a strong stand over the issue, and remind assessors that they might not be insured if certificates were deliberately inaccurate, and they could be struck off. We asked other assessor accreditation bodies for their response but none of them have replied at present.
Elmhurst told us: “Elmhurst Energy do not condone any kind of fraudulent behaviour and we are taking this particular issue in the commercial sector very seriously.
“We will be reminding our members of their obligations and also the matter of fraud. We will always defend honest, professional Elmhurst Energy members, but we clearly want to rid the entire industry of malpractice.
“The reason we have pushed for ‘smart’ auditing for existing dwellings, and are considering it for other sectors, is so that we can identity any unusual certificates and act accordingly.
“Our members are not insured if they purposefully issue certificates with incorrect information and the claims against them can be extremely expensive.
“An energy assessor with evidence of an Elmhurst EPC being issued fraudulently should make contact with us and we will willingly investigate and take necessary action, which can include the assessor being struck off.”
Cases which have raised concern so far include a 1970s industrial unit with oil-fired heating which got a G rating subsequently improved to E on a further EPC despite no apparent improvements, and a 1980s warehouse G rated partly due to no lighting after re-roofing which a subsequent EPC rated D, still with no lighting.
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