How to order a FENSA certificate when selling a house
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Fensa Certificate

(Last Updated: 14/02/2024)
6 min read

What is a FENSA certificate?

A FENSA certificate provides proof that windows and door installations:
  • Comply with building regulations
  • Use energy efficient products
  • Are registered with the local council

During the purchase process, the buyer will make legal enquiries about the condition of the house. It's not uncommon to find out that there's no FENSA certificate for the windows (double-glazed windows and/or doors) of the property you're looking to buy.

Either the seller has lost the certificate, or they installed double glazing without getting the legally required building control sign-off. The issue can delay matters whilst your solicitor gets the seller to provide the document. However, for speed, you can buy a copy of the certificate from the FENSA website - we include the link and the FENSA certificate contact number below.

You may not need to reorder the FENSA certificate if the local authority has a record of this from your Local Authority Search.

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 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.

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 and 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.

    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 the 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.

Got a Fensa Certificate? Need to check? Need to get one?

FENSA is a government-authorised scheme that monitors building regulation compliance for replacement windows and doors. The button takes you to their website. It costs £25 to download a copy FENSA certificate.

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

If a certificate has been lost, it's easy to get another one by contacting FENSA (telephone 020 7645 3700). The FENSA certificate costs £25 to get a new one - click to get a FENSA certificate online.

    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.

    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 about building control/building regulations matters discussed above.

    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(!)).

    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.

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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