DPE: what is it and how to react to the new regulations?

DPE : qu'est-ce que c'est et comment réagir face à la nouvelle réglementation ?

Definition and Specifics of the DPE

In order to reduce carbon production in Europe and France, an energy policy was implemented several years ago. This is reflected through the European Directive 2002/91/EC at the community level and more recently, in France, through the climate bill. These legislations mention the DPE, the realization of which is mandatory when a property owner considers renting or selling a home.

What is the DPE used for?

The DPE constitutes a property diagnosis that will be annexed to the technical diagnosis file or DDT of the property. The latter must be presented during the rental or transfer of the property, as mentioned in the Building and Housing Code. It provides an estimate of the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions released by a property.

The primary purpose of a DPE concerns the identification of the energy performance of a property in France. Its establishment gives the future tenant or buyer the opportunity to know if the property is, or is not, a "thermal sieve." It is both an indicator of housing comfort and the level of bills you pay. Additionally, this document helps identify the work needed to optimize the energy performance of a building.

Thus, an energy performance diagnosis proves to be an essential tool for rental and purchase transactions in real estate. It will be used to assess the energy consumption of the property and to find improvement possibilities. The more energy-efficient the property is, the more its value increases in the eyes of future tenants and buyers.

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When is the DPE Mandatory?

Generally, the energy performance of a real estate property must be indicated in the real estate advertisement during rental or sale.

You can then distinguish between 2 types of diagnostics: the rental DPE and the sale DPE. The first one is to be annexed to the rental contract during its signing or renewal. The second one will be attached to the deed of sale or any preliminary contract. However, this type of document has strictly informative value. It is used to negotiate the price of a property or to encourage its owner to undertake energy renovation works.

The absence of the DPE during the signing of a rental contract or a promise of sale is not beneficial to the owner. This can lead to the validity of the transaction being questioned afterwards by the tenant or the buyer. It should be noted that the validity period of a DPE is 10 years. However, this diagnosis will have to be redone if the property is resold. A new DPE is also necessary if major thermal renovation works are planned. This may involve, in particular, replacing a conventional boiler with a condensing gas model.

What to Remember About the DPE Labels?

Carrying out a DPE involves taking measurements on a house or an apartment. This operation highlights 2 main results, namely the Energy label and the Climate label. The first label shows the energy class of a building and provides an estimate of its energy consumption. The latter is evaluated on a scale of values ranging from A to G.

A corresponds to low consumption, i.e., less than 51 kWh/m2. G refers to high consumption, i.e., more than 450 kWh/m2.

The second label provides information on the annual impact of energy consumption related to carbon emissions. It is also estimated on a scale from A to G. A corresponds to low GHG production, i.e., less than or equal to 5 kgCO2eq/m2. G corresponds to high GHG production, i.e., more than 80 kgéqCO2/m2.

What Does the DPE Contain?

A DPE must indicate several pieces of information concerning mainly the Energy and Climate labels, the specifics of the accommodation, and the description of all the equipment. The document must also include an estimate of the annual energy consumption for each category of equipment. It should also mention an indication of the amount of renewable energy used and an estimate of the amount of carbon emitted relative to annual energy consumption. In addition to these pieces of information, there are several recommendations related to optimizing the energy performance of the building (boiler replacement and insulation).

How Much Does a DPE Cost?

Carrying out a DPE requires a certain investment. The cost of the operation depends on the provider who will be in charge of the diagnosis. Other factors also vary this amount (size of the property, travel, duration of the inspection, format of the diagnostic report...). Other characteristics of the accommodation must also be taken into account (location, type of heating system, and others).

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The New DPE and Its Changes

The ELAN Law (Evolution of Housing, Development, and Digital Technology) of November 2018 brought several modifications to the Building and Housing Code. Its Article 79 notably made the DPE enforceable, a specificity that only took effect on January 1, 2021. This development was accompanied by the creation of a new DPE model on July 1, 2021. However, this document will only come into force from January 1, 2022.

A More Comprehensive and Precise DPE

Today, the DPE, mandatory when renting or selling a property, is criticized for its deemed unreliable content. However, since July 1, 2021, the energy performance diagnosis is more relevant and enriched.

For example, the method used for calculating the DPE is unified for all buildings. Thus, the so-called "invoice" method is abolished. The DPE will be based solely on the physical characteristics of each dwelling. This may include the structure, heating system, type of windows, or insulation quality.

The DPE will take into account :

  • All consumptions (including lighting and auxiliary heating, hot water, ventilation, and cooling),
  • The climatic zone,
  • The altitude of the building.

It should be noted that the auxiliaries refer to the electrical consumption of fans, circulators, and pumps.

The DPE will also include various assessment elements regarding the housing's ability to ensure summer comfort (thermal comfort in the summer period).

It will also include various recommendations aimed at improving energy performance without increasing the amount of carbon emissions.

In addition, the DPE for properties classified F and G will include an energy audit. These are buildings whose primary energy consumption exceeds or is equal to 331 kWh/m²/year. The energy audit will then present proposals for works aiming to achieve:

  • A very high level of energy performance,
  • A level of primary energy consumption not exceeding 331 kWh/m²/year. Other information will also be highlighted by this audit, such as:
  • The theoretical impact of the works presented on the energy bill,
  • Different orders of magnitude of the costs related to these works,
  • The existence of public aids dedicated to operations improving energy performance.

Since July 1, 2021, the DPE will also be mandatory to be delivered to the owner in a dematerialized form. The aim is to simplify the transmission of the document to the tenant or notary, but also to the craftsmen and companies who will be responsible for the works.

Transformation of the Calculation Method

The old DPE generally indicates "blank" if real estate diagnosticians cannot access an energy bill. The latter remains indeed essential to calculate the energy performance of a building. This method is prohibited in the new DPE.

A specific calculation method is put in place and valid for all types of buildings to be inspected. It takes into account the physical specificities of the housing, ventilation, and lighting. The energy class of the building will then be evaluated with more precision. It should be noted that the data provided in the document must come from a supporting document from the owner or from direct observation.

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Evolution of Energy Labels

The values of energy labels have undergone changes in the new DPE. Greenhouse gas emissions will notably be included at the energy label level. The ranking remains the same. However, the thresholds in terms of energy consumption and quantity of carbon emissions have been revised.

For example, a building in class A has an energy consumption of less than 70 kWh/m²/year and a carbon footprint of 6kg CO2/m²/year. On the other hand, a building classified as G, considered a "thermal sieve," displays an energy consumption exceeding 420 kWh/m²/year and a carbon footprint equivalent to 100 kg CO2/m²/year.

Legal Enforceability of the DPE

The DPE is no longer an informative document. It becomes legally enforceable with the reform brought about by the new DPE. Thus, the responsibility of the landlord or seller can be invoked by a future tenant or buyer. This can be done if the rented or sold building has been identified as a class E housing but still represents a thermal sieve. Energy renovation may then be requested, along with other possible legal procedures.

Mandatory Display of the Annual Bill Estimate

An assessment of the annual energy consumption of buildings for rent or sale must be included in real estate advertisements. This obligation will take effect from January 1, 2022. Each owner must therefore propose a price range. Then, all important information must be indicated on the first page of the DPE.

Change in the Validity of the DPE

The new DPE is still valid for 10 years. However, for DPEs carried out between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017, the validity period will end on December 31, 2022. DPEs carried out between January 1, 2018, and June 30, 2021, will no longer be valid as of December 31, 2024.

The Future of the DPE

In the future, the DPE could become a real selling point in real estate advertisements in France. Unlike other diagnostics, this document will be associated with energy renovation. A building with a good energy class will obtain a green value. This will make it easier to find tenants for rent or buyers for purchase. The DPE will encourage owners to renovate their buildings. Thanks to the various aid schemes offered by the State, it is possible to significantly reduce building energy bills.

Mathieu Amara

Mathieu Amara

Graduated in political science, I have always been passionate about renovation and construction work.

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