A while back, we spoke about how the Spanish government had been given an ultimatum from the European Union regarding energy performance certificates since the rest of Europe had already been applying this obligatory system for a number of years. Since the law was enforced back in June of this year, there has been much talk and confusion about it so I thought it would be a good idea to revisit the matter.
One point that has created a lot of confusion is whether all property owners are obligated to obtain this certificate. The answer to this is NO. The energy performance certificate is only for those property owners who wish to sell or rent their properties out to third parties.
Another problem area and the one we are going to focus the rest of the article on is who is legally allowed to issue the certificates. Only registered and certified architects, engineers and technicians are able to qualify properties as well as issue and register the necessary documentation. However, if you bear in mind that in Spain, there are around 1.8 million properties available for rent and approximately 3 million vacant houses, it is no wonder that many others have tried to jump on the bandwagon of what looks to be a very lucrative business.
If you are a property owner and require an energy performance certificate, you should be aware of the following:
- That the technician who prepares the document on your behalf is certified to do so. If in doubt, do not be afraid to ask to see qualifications etc.
- If the technician suggests that an on-site visit is not necessary and that you can simply forward the information he requires, WALK AWAY! The law clearly states that the technician must assess the property in person as precise details are necessary regarding the construction of the building etc. It really is a serious matter and sanctions apply if this step is not carried out. Plus, if you think about it, how can a technician possibly certify information he has not been able to verify himself? Anybody who suggests this method is definitely not a professional and should be avoided.
- If you are given a too-good-to-be-true price, it probably is. Even though the procedure may seem simple, there is quite a bit of work involved from the initial on-site assessment to complete registry so those who offer extremely low prices are probably not really qualified to do the job in the first place or do not follow the law to a T.
- Ensure that the final paperwork has been properly signed off by the correct authorities. In the Canaries, all certificates must be registered at the Industrias department of the Canarian Government and their logo must be displayed on the final registered paperwork.
- The certificate obtained at the end of the procedure is valid for a 10 year period. It is not necessary to apply for a new one each time the property is rented out despite stories to the contrary.
Luis Barber Doreste, a well renowned engineer based in Las Palmas capital made the following observations, “this is a law that has been copied by European law governing building insulation etc but as we have found, in the Canaries, it does not have the same value. Of all the properties we have assessed, 90-95% received the lowest rating due to the way the buildings are constructed here. The problem we have seen is that people then try to find the cheapest technicians and since the law has not determined minimum or maximum fees, this has become a serious issue especially since there are those who take advantage of this by undercutting everybody else to the extreme and by issuing certificates online even though this practice is completely illegal”.
Various Engineering Associations throughout Spain have made official complaints regarding cases of professional misconduct, the unauthorized practice of a profession by unlicensed people and disloyal competition. Due to this type of wrongdoing, some unsuspecting owners have discovered to their dismay that the paperwork they received back from such technicians or from unlicensed people is not valid because it has not been properly registered with the competent authorities so caution is advised when it comes to requesting a certificate and particularly, WHO you contract for the job. You can contact Canary based Engineering Associations such as COIICO, www.coiico.es or COITLPA, www.coitilpa.org for a list of registered engineers/technicians in your area if you are unsure. Cheaper is not always necessarily better…