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Housing and Regeneration Act 2008

General

798.This Chapter provides for the introduction of mandatory sustainability rating for new homes in England and Wales. This will be information in the form of either a certificate showing the results of assessment against sustainability standards, or a statement that there is no certificate because no assessment has been made. Sustainability standards already exist in the Code for Sustainable Homes (“the Code”). Since April 2007, the Code has operated on a voluntary basis in England only. The purpose of sustainability standards is to improve the sustainability of new homes during both the construction and the lifetime of the home.

799.The Chapter includes provision for extension of the provisions to conversions of existing buildings and to non-residential properties, although there are no present proposals to use those powers.

800.The Chapter applies to England and Wales. Any power to make delegated legislation under the Chapter is to be exercised by the appropriate national authority: the Secretary of State in relation to England, and the Welsh Ministers in relation to Wales.

Section 279 - Certificates for new homes

801.This section places a duty on a person selling a newly constructed residential property to give the purchaser of the property information about the sustainability of the new property free of charge before the sale is agreed. This information is in the form of either a sustainability certificate or a statement that there is no sustainability certificate for the property (subsections (1), (2), (4) and (9)).

802.The sustainability certificate can be given as either an interim certificate (if the property has not been completed yet) or a final certificate (available after the property has been built and assessed). Where an interim certificate is given before sale, the final certificate must be given at a later point to be prescribed in regulations, which may be after the sale is completed (subsections (3), (10) and (11)).

803.The section provides for powers to make regulations to bring forward the point at which a sustainability certificate or statement of non-assessment must be supplied, to make exceptions to the duties under the section, and to provide for alternative duties where such exceptions apply (subsections (5), (6) and (7)). There is a defence of reasonable excuse for not complying with any of duties in this section (subsection (8)).

Section 280 - Meaning of sustainability

804.This section defines the sustainability of a residential property in relation to the materials used in the property, other aspects of its design and construction, and any services, fittings and equipment provided in or in connection with the property (as well as related demolition and off site activities). Sustainability is the extent to which prescribed sustainability standards are met in these respects (subsections (1) and (4)).

805.Sustainability standards will be prescribed in regulations by the appropriate national authority for ensuring or furthering the following listed purposes (subsection (2)):

  • health, safety, welfare and convenience of people in or about the property, and others who may be affected by it;

  • efficient management of the property and of its construction;

  • energy efficiency;

  • water efficiency and minimising flood risk;

  • efficient waste management;

  • protecting or enhancing the environment; and

  • preventing or detecting crime.

806.The appropriate national authority can by regulations amend this list of purposes from time to time by adding to, removing or altering the items listed (subsection (3)).

Section 281 - Authorised assessors

807.This section ensures that assessments of sustainability for residential properties are carried out only by authorised assessors. The appropriate national authority must by regulations specify who are to be authorised assessors, and may make further provision about them (subsections (1), (2) and (3)).

808.Regulations may specify that authorised assessors be accredited under an accreditation scheme established or approved by the appropriate national authority, and may provide for the charging of fees under accreditation schemes (subsections (4), (5) and (6)).

809.Regulations concerning accreditation schemes must require the appropriate national authority to be satisfied that any scheme approved contains adequate provision for -

  • ensuring that members of the scheme are fit and proper persons who are qualified to carry out assessments;

  • ensuring that a code of conduct for members of the scheme is maintained and published;

  • ensuring that members of the scheme have suitable indemnity insurance;

  • facilitating the resolution of complaints against members;

  • requiring certificates issued by members to be entered into the register of certificates (see paragraph on Section 282)

  • keeping a public register of members of the scheme; and

  • such other purposes as may be specified in the regulations (subsections (7) and (8)).

810.Regulations may also provide for accreditation schemes to contain provision about certificates and other documents within the scope of the scheme including the terms on which they may be provided (subsection (9)).

Section 282 - Register of certificates

811.This Section empowers the appropriate national authority to make regulations about a register of sustainability certificates (subsection (1)). Regulations may also provide for interim certificates and other documents to be included on the register (subsections (9) and (10)).

812.The regulations under subsection (1) may provide in particular (subsection (2)) for:

  • the register to be kept by or on behalf of the appropriate national authority or by such other person as the regulations may specify (subsection (3));

  • the payment of a fee to enter a document onto the register (subsection (4)); and

  • preventing the disclosure of the register or documents or information in it except in accordance with the regulations (subsection (5));

  • the circumstances in or purposes for which the register may, on payment of any fee, be inspected, documents or information may be copied or given, and disclosure made of anything so obtained (subsections (6) and (7)).

813.Contravention of a prohibition on disclosure from the register is a summary offence punishable by a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, currently £5,000 (subsection (8)).

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