Epc Changes ; Agents Say Timescales Will Be Impossible.

Date Published 20 March 2012

Changes that estate agents will have to make to their IT systems are simply not capable of being done by the time the new EPC regime kicks in.

Only five days – including a Sunday – have been allowed between necessary information being made available and implementation.

The claims have come from agents sent information about how to retrieve EPCs from the Landmark website.

They have said, in two robust words: ‘no way’.

The highly complex ‘guidance’ issued by CLG on March 2, but due to communications problems not widely circulated until Monday this week, says that the new-look EPC will be issued on April 1.

On the same day, an ‘API’ code will be released – enabling estate agents’ IT systems to ‘talk’ to the Landmark site via an Application Programming Interface.

Without the code, agents will have to log on manually to the Landmark website each time they want to access individual EPCs. The log-on would include a CAPTCHA, whereby agents would have to ‘fill in the box with the letters they see’ – very time consuming for agents with a large number of EPCs they need to access and print off.

Nick Salmon, managing director of Harrison Murray, said: `If the code is not released until April 1, it means agents will have just five days – including a Sunday – to rewrite and presumably test their own systems.

`We will, of course, obey the law, but when I asked our IT team to look at the guidance, they said it was not possible to automate our systems within the timescale.`

Another mystery is that the guidance gives what looks to be a screengrab of the Landmark site as agents will see it.

However, closer inspection reveals a date of last October – when the EPC changes were last due to kick in – and that the text is in Latin, suggesting that as late as March 2, the Landmark designers did not have actual wording.

Other agents have told EAT that they are concerned that they will be required to pre-pay a minimum of £10 upfront to Landmark in order to get redacted EPCs – those without addresses.

One said that agents were being forced into a commercial contract with Landmark – a private firm, holding what is a public database, and which belongs to the Daily Mail – and asked what was wrong with using Tipp-Ex.

Our readers’ concerns were put to Landmark who agreed the following statement with the Department of Communities and Local Government: "DLCG requested Landmark to develop a system to enable property gents to retrieve the EPC for attachment to the written particulars without additional cost to the taxpayer.

"It was agreed that this would be developed on a cost recovery basis. As part of the EPC Retrieval Service, domestic and non-redacted EPCs are provided free of charge.

"As the redacted commercial EPCs are a value-added and optional service, there is a charge. The use of the Register Operator`s service also means that the Register Operator is responsible for supplying the EPCs and ensuring that the redactions are carried out to the same standard in order to ensure consistency."