Landlords will now have to show how energy efficient their properties are
All landlords in England and Wales must now give new tenants a certificate showing the energy efficiency of their rented property.
Buildings up for rent must be examined and given an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) detailing their efficiency on a scale from A to G.
The rating is intended to allow potential tenants to consider energy efficiency and fuel costs.
All EU member states must introduce the scheme by 4 January 2009.
A £200 repeatable fine can be levied per property on landlords who refuse.
The new scheme, which comes into force in England and Wales from 1 October, is similar to the controversial Home Information Pack for sellers, and will check such areas as insulation, double-glazing and the performance of the boiler and appliances.
One landlord, James Fraser, says it seems odd that homeowners without a certificate can be fined, although there will be no obligation for landlords to act on the contents of the report.
He told the BBC: "Many landlords may well come away with the point of view that the government is simply trying to inflict more expenses on landlords for no reason whatsoever."
Communities Minister Iain Wright said the new certificates offered tenants and landlords "a real opportunity".
He said: "The EPC should be welcomed by tenants who are looking for better value and more energy efficient rental properties, as well as landlords who are, more than ever, keen to attract responsible and committed tenants."
David Salusbury, chairman of the National Landlords Association, said: "Landlords should get their EPCs sorted out as quickly as possible so that they are ahead of the game when it comes to re-letting a property.
"Every landlord hates void periods and needs to be in the position to react quickly when an existing tenancy ends.
"Equally, tenants may be interested in energy efficiency - some for green motivations, but more as indication of their fuel bills. A happy tenant is a longstanding one."
The EPC and a recommendation report must be provided free of charge by landlords when:
- Written information about the building is provided in response to a request for information from the prospective tenant
- When a viewing is conducted
- If neither of those occur, before the landlord enters into a contract to let their property
An EPC does not have to be made available if:
- The landlord believes the prospective tenant is unlikely to have sufficient funds to rent the property
- The landlord does not believe the prospective tenant is genuinely interested in renting that type of property
- The landlord is unlikely to be prepared to rent out the property to the prospective or tenant (although this does not authorize unlawful discrimination)
An EPC is valid for 10 years and must be produced by an accredited energy assessor.