Huhne said: "The Government has made it clear that renting out dangerously cold and draughty homes is unacceptable – landlords will have to improve their properties or face prosecution."
Proposals in the Bill include:
* From April 2016 landlords will not be able to refuse reasonable requests from tenants, or local authorities acting on behalf of tenants, to improve their property;
* From April 2018 the Government will make it unlawful to rent out a house or business premise which has less than an "E" energy efficiency rating, ensuring at least 682,000 properties will have to be improved.
British Property Federation director of policy Ian Fletcher said: "We welcome the recognition that there simply isn’t the capacity in the energy efficiency supply sector to expect change overnight and hence why the Minister has plumped for 2018.
"This seems reasonable for the private rented sector, but if the capacity does not come on stream or the Green Deal fails there will be significant consequences in terms of reducing housing supply and potentially poor works if there is a last minute rush.
"Previous drafts of the Energy Bill were proposing a more cautious approach which relied on a review in 2013/14 to check progress, and the implications if there was a lack of capacity, before considering how any legislative sticks would be applied. If that is dispensed with, the Secretary of State is obviously pursuing a riskier strategy.
"Some will also query why the Department is placing so much stall on the PRS, when there are far more carbon emissions emanating from the owner-occupied sector?
"Regardless, it is important that landlords start to consider whether they will be caught and have their plans ready for when the Green Deal goes live next year. The Government has binding climate change commitments and landlords are party to those. There are opportunities, however, as well as threats in improving energy efficiency and landlords who start thinking about and acting on the issues will be best placed to handle both."
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