New rules about household energy efficiency are coming into force shortly.
They will require property sellers to show potential buyers what work would be needed to boost the energy efficiency of poorly-rated properties.
At first, this will especially affect older, draughty homes, such as barn conversions with exposed stone walls and many ‘character’ holiday homes. Over time, more properties will be concerned.
Which properties need this audit?
The audit is required for:
- Privately owned homes with a D, E, F, or G rating in the standard DPE energy efficiency check (given to all property buyers and tenants) with the timing being:
- From April 1, 2023, it will become compulsory for F or G properties
- From January 1, 2025 for E properties
- From January 1, 2034 for D properties
For multi-home buildings (eg. blocks of flats) owned by a single owner, you do not need to have an audit carried out for every separate unit. The professional carrying out the audit can draw up this document on the basis of a visit to a sample of properties.
What is the new audit?
The purpose is to inform potential buyers who are visiting a property of the work they could do if they wish to improve the energy label of the home.
This comes in the context of rising energy prices and a recognised need to reduce the use of fossil fuels so as to limit global warming.
It shows a detailed report of the state of the property and must offer at least two suggestions for specific improvements that could be made.
One of these should show how, in a series of steps, the property’s rating could be raised, so that those properties rated F or G attain at least class C. The first step should raise the property by at least one letter and should at least bring it into class E. Later on, when properties rated D or E are concerned, the work proposed should raise them to level B.
The other suggestion should show how the property’s rating could be raised effectively in one larger renovation project.
Who can carry out the audit?
Only certain qualified professionals will be authorised to do the work.
For multi-unit properties with a single owner, it must be carried out by a qualified consultancy firm, with staff qualified to perform “energy audits of buildings (tertiary and/or collective housing)", or an architect.
For individual houses, the choice is wider. For example, some diagnostiqueurs who carry out DPE checks can also carry out this analysis, if they have the right certification.
As well as being qualified, the person performing the audit must be impartial and not have any vested interests or links to the seller.
The auditor must also pass the results to the French agency Ademe, which is concerned with issues around eco-friendly living.
How does this energy audit differ from the existing DPE?
The two documents work together. The Diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE) evaluates the energy and environmental performance of a property and provides a letter rating, while the audit suggests detailed ways to improve this rating.
Any recommendations that may be given along with a DPE are usually software-generated while an audit is personalised by a person who has visited the property.
When should the audit be carried out?
The results of the audit must be provided at the time of the sale of a property, including at the time of signing the promise to purchase (promesse de vente), and to any potentially-interested buyer coming to visit the home.
This means that it must be done just before the property is put up for sale, and organised and paid for by the seller.
The energy audit rating is valid for five years before it must be carried out again.
How much does an energy audit cost?
There is no set price; each auditor can charge their own rate. Buyers can ask for a quote and shop around before choosing their professional. The cost must be paid by the seller and not passed to the buyer.
Prices are expected to vary from around €300 up to €1,000 or more for larger properties, with the average probably being around €600. As mentioned, this is on top of the DPE certificate, which forms part of the standard set of checks required which cost around €500 in total.
How is the audit carried out?
The professional will visit the property to be audited. They must do this in person.
They will estimate the property’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
They will use information including the architectural and insulation characteristics of the building, any issues with the construction, the energy equipment installed, etc. They will also look at documents provided by the seller.
Based on this individual picture of the property, the auditor will draw up at least two recommendations for improvement works on the property and will clarify the severity of the problems and urgency of the work proposed.
What documents does the seller need to provide?
There is no specific list but it is in the seller's interest to provide several so that the audit is as complete and accurate as possible.
The more information the auditor has on the property, the more reliable their assessment will be.
These might include:
- The most recent DPE and any other diagnostic (property check) documents
- Planning permission permit for the property
- Invoices for work carried out, showing the work and mentioning the property owner’s name and the address of the property
- Before and after photos of work
- Report stating the composition of the walls
- Reports showing you had maintenance work done
- Technical notices about cooling/heating systems or for hot water and ventilation. If you are in a block of flats with collective systems, information on what these consist of would be relevant as well as about how the cost of these is shared out among individual owners.
What happens if the audit shows the property could never rise to class C?
If the architectural, technical, or heritage properties of the building prevent it from reaching the C level even if work were to be carried out, or if the works required would be prohibitively expensive, the auditor is required to make this clear in the report.
Are the improvements recommended in the audit report mandatory?
No, the audit is merely a recommendation.
However, it is likely to be in the buyer’s interest to improve their property’s rating because from this year, properties with energy consumption exceeding 450 kWh/m2 per year cannot be rented out (this essentially relates only to the most energy-inefficient of G-rated properties).
From 2025, this ban will apply to all properties rated G, from 2028 for those rated F, and then from 2034 for properties rated E.
Since August 25, 2022, landlords have also been forbidden from raising the rent on F and G properties.