Important: changes to the energy certificate

The documents that are legally required in Germany for the sale or letting of a property include the energy certificate (‘Energieausweis’). The requirements for energy certificates were recently amended yet again. One thing that hasn’t changed with the new rules is that most owners still find it extremely difficult to tell whether their energy certificate complies with the legal requirements. Anyone wishing to sell or let their property with peace of mind is therefore best advised to commission an experienced property expert to take care of the energy certificate.

For many owners, the uncertainty already begins with establishing just what kind of energy certificate they actually need – a requirement certificate (‘Bedarfsausweis’) or a consumption certificate (‘Verbrauchsausweis’). These two certificate types will continue to exist in future.

The differences between the consumption certificate and the requirement certificate have grown smaller

However, it was previously the case that a consumption certificate had to contain fewer data – fundamentally, it just had to show the actual energy consumption for the property for the past three years. With the new rules based on the German Buildings Energy Act (‘Gebäudeenergiegesetz’), consumption certificates now also have to contain detailed information on the respective building’s energy efficiency. This used to apply only to the requirement certificate. For this certificate, the energy requirement is calculated based on a property’s technical features and energy quality. As this can only be done following a thorough appraisal by an expert, requirement certificates used to be considerably more expensive than consumption certificates. This difference has grown smaller as consumption certificates are now also subject to more stringent requirements. In other words: there will no longer be a “cheap version” of the energy certificate. When you require a new energy certificate, you must reckon with a cost in the low triple figures. Your energy consultant or estate agent will be able to provide you with more details.

Do I even need an energy certificate?

Yet it is also important to know that not every property owner immediately needs a new energy certificate. Owner-occupiers who are neither selling nor letting their property in the near future don’t have to worry about this issue. Only those wishing to sell or let their property always require an energy certificate. Yet even old energy certificates will initially remain valid despite the new rules. You should therefore start by checking when your existing certificate was issued. The validity period is 10 years, so in most cases there is no need to take action as yet. Those immediately affected by the new rules are owners selling or letting a property whose energy certificate has expired or which doesn’t yet have a certificate.

What do the new rules mean for me specifically?

Questions about the energy certificate

It is currently hard to gauge what the new energy-certificate requirements mean in practice. Amongst other things, the changes revolve around greenhouse-gas emissions, the owner’s liability for wrong or unclear information and the expansion of the mandatory information in property adverts, which now also explicitly apply to estate agents. Our advice: it is virtually impossible for a layperson to determine whether an energy certificate meets all the applicable legal requirements. To avoid any risk of fines and to ensure that your property sale or letting doesn’t run aground on any formalities surrounding the energy certificate, you are well advised to commission a professional estate agent with obtaining or reviewing your energy certificate. Dealing with such documents is part of the daily business for an estate agent. They are therefore experts in this arena and know exactly what to look out for.

Are you uncertain which specific energy certificate you need for your property? Get in touch with us! We are happy to advise you.

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