Energy certificates

Dear Editor,

Colin Reid is to be applauded for his revelations on the latest bureaucratic nightmare to afflict home owners in Portugal with the obvious knock-on effect on the struggling Algarve tourist industry. This follows the equally damaging touristic licencing fiasco which rumbles on with eternal revisions and explanations from Denis Swing-Greene and others in the English language Portuguese press.

Somehow, I feel that the Energy Certificates exposee would sound better coming from someone who hasn’t a vested interest in the whole process. Nevertheless, having read his largely informative and engaging article, I am bound to seek clarification on some points and elicit answers to some key questions in the limited time remaining before this latest armageddon strikes us homeowners.

1. How many inspectors do we have in the Algarve to carry out the enormous task of awarding all these new pieces of paper? The cynic would say that the environmental cost of all the trees needed to be felled for the paper will outweigh the supposed saving in carbon emissions. Will it be like the over 50s car licensing fiasco with people waiting months before they can drive outside of Portugal. Meanwhile, no one can let or sell their property regardless of its age or thermal efficiency (the certificate grade on older buildings apparently doesn’t matter) with consequent damage to the housing and tourist markets.

2. How does one start the process, where are the appropriate forms, and the 1,000 dollar question: How much will certification cost?

3. It will apparently be illegal to let a property without this certificate after January 1 2009. Does this also apply to leases/long lets and if so will tenants have to be turfed out until landlords can comply with the legislation? Or will there be easements in the legislation, we need to be told.

4. In the case of existing blocks of flats, where the whole construction is to the same energy saving standard, will a joint certificate be issued following an application by the condominium administrator? 

Finally, it is just not helpful of Mr Reid to issue veiled threats on tax breaks and the saleability of properties with lower than a ‘superior grading’. If this is in the Portuguese government’s (or EEC) legislation, let him spell it out in a detailed English translation of same, not ‘cherry pick’ certain issues while using his article as a promotion for his company’s services.

John Ballinger, Praia da Luz

Colin Reid replies: Firstly, I would hope that the energy certification process does not become “the bureaucratic nightmare”. Although it will certainly cause more paperwork, one must not forget the objective of the process which is to improve the energy efficiency of buildings which in turn will reduce carbon emissions and thus help the environment. It will also cut fuel costs for the owner. So there is a positive side to this new law.

In answer to the questions:

I believe there are about 20 to 30 PQ inspectors currently qualified which I appreciate is totally inadequate

The process involves visiting the property to collect data and then using approved software to calculate the energy rating. Cost depends on the size of the property but for a normal 4 bed villa would be in the region of 500 euros

I do not know how this law will be applied. I suspect that it will be implemented in gradual stages as there will not be enough inspectors to carry out the certification. I would think therefore that there will be a transitional  period to allow the law to be implemented in a realistic fashion

Even if the flats are identical, each one would normally need a certificate

Regarding the potential tax benefits and saleability of properties mentioned in my article, this is not my opinion but has come from information published in the Portuguese press following an interview with the director-general of ADENE, the Portuguese national energy agency.

I am not trying to scare readers nor investors with this new legislation. I am merely alerting people (with factual information) that this legislation is coming into force in Portugal. All the information in my article is based on the current legislation and is not my personal opinion.

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