No Fensa Certificate for Windows - can you get one retrospectively?

12/09/2018

Click here if you need to check if there is a FENSA certificate held for your double glazing


It's not uncommon to find out, during the legal enquiries stage of your conveyancing process that there's no FENSA certificate for windows (double glazed windows and/or doors) of a property you're looking to buy. Either the seller has lost their FENSA certificate or they installed double glazing without getting the legally required building control sign-off.

Do I need a FENSA certificate?

Since 1 April 2002 in England and Wales, all double glazing installations need to be registered at the Local Authority to meet with Building Regulations - it is illegal to have installed double glazing in a property without a building regs certificate. 

In practice, this is normally achieved by using an installer who is (or whose firm is) a member of a a government authorised Competent Persons Scheme (CPS) of which the largest is FENSA (the Fenestration Self Assessment Scheme). A FENSA member can legally self-certify and report the job to FENSA and the local building authority, after which you get sent a FENSA certificate.

In this article we explain what you can do if you are buying a property and the vendor hasn't provided you with or has lost the required FENSA certification for installed double glazing. It examines the following matters:

How should double glazing be installed

Double glazing should be installed by a government authorised member of a Competent Persons Scheme, normally FENSA. You can check if your double glazing installer is a member of a Competent Persons Scheme - click here.

Your FENSA member installs the double glazing in your home then informs FENSA. FENSA may select your installation for inspection. FENSA then informs your local Building Control of the completed work and then your FENSA certificate is sent to you in around 2 - 4 weeks.


Our solicitors are particularly adept at uncovering matters such as this article's subject during the legal enquiries stage. If you require a Fixed Fee quote for conveyancing with a No Sale No Fee guarantee, please call 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply).


    1
    What if your seller doesn't have a FENSA certificate?

Given that a sale can be halted by a matter such as this - mortgage lenders often insist on all certificates being complete and in order - it's in the seller's interest to consider 2 options:
  • Retrospective Building Regulation Compliance Certificate - the seller has to apply to the local authority for this -often known as a letter of regularisation for unauthorised works - and it can take time. This might cost perhaps £300 - £400.

    If there is an issue with the installation then it will have to be rectified before a certificate is issued. A vendor might consider refusing to pay for these matters, but as certification is a legal requirement, they are in breach of the law.

  • Take out double glazing building regulations indemnity insurance - as a buyer, you can take out an indemnity policy as long as the double glazing installation was more than a year ago - that protects you against losses if the local authority enforces alteration or the removal of the double glazing. The indemnity policy doesn't cover for costs to install new double glazing. The cost for this building regulations indemnity insurance ranges from around £180 to £500.

    You should note, however, that this insurance will neither protect you in the event of personal injury due to faulty workmanship nor will it cover you for fines imposed because of a local authority Order. Additionally you can't take out this insurance if you've already informed the local authority about the matter. Finally, when you come to sell, you might find it very difficult if you don't have a compliance certificate yourself.

Fixed Fee, No Sale No Fee with a 5 out of 5 rating

 
    2
    What if your seller has lost a FENSA certificate (or you have)?

If a FENSA certificate has merely been lost, it's easy to get another one by contacting FENSA (telephone 020 7645 3700). The FENSA certificate cost is £20 to get a new one - click to get a FENSA certificate online.

    3
    How long does a FENSA certificate last for?

FENSA certificates are transferable, which means they last as long as you have your windows, and when you sell your home, they pass to the new owner.

    4
    Are there any alternatives to FENSA as members of a Competent Persons Scheme who do double glazing?

Yes. The next largest organisation to FENSA is currently Certass and this latter organisation acts in the same way as FENSA in relation to building control/building regulations matters dicussed above.
how-do-i-get-a-fensa-certificate-for-my-windows
    5
    Can you self-install double glazing or use someone who isn't a member of a Competent Persons Scheme?

Yes you can and a seller may have chosen to have done so. As long as the correct building regulations compliance certificate has been issued (and this may cost £80 or so) then there are no problems regarding selling your property in future (as long as you keep the certificate safe(!)).

    6
    Can a lack of Planning Permission for double glazing also be a problem for buyers?

This article has addressed the issue of installing double glazing without obtaining the correct building control sign-off. Generally speaking, planning permission is not an issue with installing double glazing because the installation normally falls under permitted development rights.

That said, there may be an issue if the double glazing installation is in either:
  • a listed building; or
  • a home in a conservation area.
In these cases, you have to seek planning permission from your local authority and a seller should have done so.

Another issue to be aware of is that a leaseholder has to seek permission from the landlord/freeholder before installing double glazing and if the freeholder/landlord finds that they haven't done so, then this can also hold up a sale.

Our solicitors are expert in researching planning permission and building control matters for buyers as part of their report on title: if you're buying a home, contact us on 0333 344 3234 (local call charges apply).





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