City of Portland to Enforce Home Energy Scores with Fines

home energy score fine portland

A fine for listing your home on the Portland real estate market?

Yes, if you do it without a Home Energy Score: Portland’s official Home Energy Score blog announced this summer that the city will start issuing civil penalties for non-compliance with the policy. (Read below for a few exceptions to the policy.)

The first penalty will be for $500. A Home Energy Score Report costs between $99-$300 in Portland. Does it make sense to get the Report, even if you don’t think buyers will ever look at it? Absolutely.

Since the Home Energy Score policy first went into effect in Portland in January of 2018, the city estimates that the compliance rate has been around two-thirds. That means one-third of home sellers are out of compliance. They are either unaware of, or ignoring the law and selling their home without getting it scored. 

That’s a problem because in order for Home Energy Scores to achieve their purpose — to allow buyers to compare homes based on energy efficiency — the compliance rate needs to be close to 100%. Imagine trying to buy a fuel-efficient vehicle, and you’ve got it down to three options. The first reads “32 miles per gallon” on the sticker. The second is a hybrid and its sticker says “48 miles per gallon”. The final vehicle is missing a sticker altogether.

Of course, a home is not a car — the systems are more complicated, and the ways in which they use and lose energy may be invisible to the average home shopper. In the car-buying example above, the buyer could make their own assumptions about the vehicles, but home efficiency can be deceiving. An older Portland craftsman that’s been buttoned up tightly with new double-glazed windows can get a better score than a recently constructed home with high ceilings and can lights, despite the solar panels on the roof. Our Home Energy Score assessors have seen it all!

The City of Portland is enforcing the Home Energy Score rules in order to improve compliance among the vast majority of Portland home sellers to which the law applies. But, it doesn’t apply to all homes and home sellers. There are certain exceptions: Condos in multistory units, houseboats, and homes used only for commercial purposes do not need a Home Energy Score, and will not be fined for going on the market without one. Read more about exemptions here on our blog.

Sometimes it’s not the home itself, but the conditions of the sale that allow it to skip a home energy score. These include: 

  • Foreclosure
  • When the home is being sold at a public auction
  • When the home is uninhabitable or has been condemned 
  • Other special circumstances as described in the Portland Administrative Rules

If any of these circumstances apply, sellers may apply for an exemption to the Portland Home Energy Score requirement, but they have to do so 10 business days before listing the home for sale. If not, the fine may apply. 

Finally, homeowners at or below 60% of the area median income are entitled to free assessments. Just go to the Portland Housing Bureau website and fill out the form.

Avoid the fine; schedule your home energy score online with us today!