Property energy rating system in France eased (a little)

Smaller properties are to have their DPE calculated differently so their rating more accurately ‘reflects reality’, the government says

Someone calculating a house’s DPE with a model of a house and the DPE rating on it
Smaller properties are to have their DPE calculated differently to make their rating better ‘reflect reality’
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The energy rating system for smaller properties in France is to change, and will allow around 140,000 homes to escape the lower ‘F’ and ‘G’ category ratings, the government has confirmed.

The Ecological Transition Minister, Christophe Béchu, called the move a “major simplification of housing”, in an interview with Le Parisien on February 12.

What is the energy rating system, or DPE?

The diagnostic de performance énergétique (DPE, energy performance audit and rating) is a grading of a property’s energy efficiency from A to G (with A the best).

The aim is to lower energy consumption, and limit greenhouse gas emissions. The lowest-rated homes are those with F and G labels.

A property must have a valid DPE before it is sold, and also before it is rented out to tenants.

The government has already banned landlords from renting out homes with a G label (with the change set to come into force from January 1, 2025), and is set to ban those with an F label from January 2026, and an E label from January 2028.

Read more: Explainer: DPE survey and new energy audit for properties in France
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A DPE audit takes into account multiple factors, including materials, insulation, double glazing, heating equipment, and heating efficiency.

The misleading display or manipulation of a DPE evaluation is punishable by a fine of up to €3,000 for individuals or for €15,000 for companies.

What is the change?

Mr Béchu is set to change the way the DPE is calculated for smaller homes of less than 40 m² (430 sq ft).

This will include a new weighting coefficient for hot water production, so that smaller properties are not unfairly penalised for having a greater proportion of hot water production in relation to their square footage, in comparison to larger properties.

This will allow around 140,000 properties to be removed from the lowest categories, also known as passoires énergétiques (energy wasters).

“More than 27% of very small properties are considered to be energy wastes [and are labelled F or G]...but this does not reflect reality,” said Mr Béchu. This is because of “a calculation bias” in the DPE, he said.

Why has the ministry come to this decision?

“We have realised that the smaller the surface area of a dwelling, the greater the proportion of hot water production,” said Mr Béchu. This, which depends on the size of the hot water tank and other factors, “disproportionately affects the classification, with no real link to the number of occupants.”

The aim is also to raise these properties out of the F and G categories, to “help unblock the situation on the rental supply market”, said Minister for Housing Guillaume Kasbarian on RTL on February 12.

“We're going to do our utmost over the coming weeks and months to simplify things as much as possible,” he said.

How can I see if my property will be affected?

The Agence de la Transition Ecologique (French Agency for Ecological Transition) has put a simulator online that can help you see if a property will be affected by the change in calculation.

The simulator can be used to check the home's energy class and "to obtain a certificate that will be valid as the new classification”, the minister continued.

Will the ban dates on renting out lower-rated properties be pushed?

No. The minister said that he did not wish to affect this timetable.

However, he stated that he would aim to “clarify certain rules that will apply from January 1 next year”. This is set to include further amendments, including those expected to state that “the requirement to have work carried out in order to re-let a G-rated property will only apply when the lease is renewed…or when the tenant changes,” Mr Béchu said.

This will mean that “no tenant will be forcibly removed from their home because it is an energy waster,” he said. Similarly, if “a tenant refuses to move out of G-rated accommodation while it is being renovated”, there will be a clause “exempting the landlord from carrying out work”.

Once the tenant moves out, however, the landlord will be required to do the work before they can re-let the property.

This will also apply to “co-ownerships that have voted for works to be carried out, but have not had the time to do them”, said Mr Kasbarian.

What has been the reaction to the changes?

The reactions have been mixed, with property associations welcoming the move, and tenant associations remaining more critical.

The introduction of a weighted DPE for small properties was requested by the Chambre des diagnostiqueurs immobiliers and the Fédération interprofessionnelle du diagnostic immobilier.

Along with the Syndicat interprofessionnel du diagnostic immobilier, these organisatons have welcomed the changes.

“The end of the rental bans is at least a year away, which will allow these essential operations to be carried out over a more realistic timeframe,” they wrote in a press release.

Similarly, Olivier Salleron, president of the Fédération française du bâtiment (French building federation), praised the change as it would “enable flats to be rented out again,” he said to the AFP.

Loïc Cantin, chairman of the Fédération nationale de l'immobilier, is urging further changes to the way the DPE is calculated for homes heated with electricity, as these “are penalised in comparison with gas".

However, he said the changes announced by the Ministry were a “good thing”.

In contrast, tenancy associations have not been quite so welcoming.

The president of the Confédération nationale du logement, the leading association for low-income housing tenants, called the move “a sleight of hand”, and “a tremendous gift to landlords” that “will not solve the problems of housing quality”.

The Droit au logement association also said that “given the current situation on the rental market”, tenants could find it difficult to get alternative accommodation during energy renovations. This could mean that they will be stuck in non-energy efficient housing that the landlord does not have to improve (although, rent for F and G rated properties cannot be increased).

“We need to check that the terms given to homeowners are not a loophole to avoid carrying out work,” said director at the Fondation Abbé Pierre, Manuel Domergue.

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