A new Victorian “homeworthy” standard for rental properties could save people who rent $850 a year on their power bills, create an estimated 4000 jobs and cut climate pollution through simple efficiency upgrades, according to a new report by Environment Victoria.
“As a community, we are comfortable with the idea that cars are required to pass a roadworthy test. It’s about time houses met a basic ‘homeworthy’ test before they can be leased,” said Environment Victoria Efficiency Campaigner Anne Martinelli.
The report, Bringing rental homes up to scratch, maps out how minimum efficiency standards for rental homes could tackle a long-standing problem, and create thousands of jobs in trades, services and manufacturing across Victoria.
To accompany the report, Environment Victoria has also released a database of renters and landlords who support the standards and want to talk to the media.
“At the moment, the problem is that there’s little incentive for landlords to improve the energy and water efficiency of their properties because the bill savings largely go to tenants,” said Environment Victoria Efficiency Campaigner Anne Martinelli.
“Victoria’s 600,000 rental homes are much less likely than owner-occupied homes to have basic efficiency measures like insulation. This means renters are paying more for energy bills or putting up with dangerously hot or cold living conditions to save money.”
Rental homes are currently only required to meet whatever building standards were in place when they were constructed – which for some homes could have been 100 years ago. So while standards for new buildings have been steadily improving, rental homes are falling behind and renters are paying the price.
“With the latest Census figures showing nearly one-third of Victorian households now rent in the private market, inefficient rental housing is a mainstream issue governments can’t ignore,” says Ms Martinelli.
“With a major review of rental laws currently underway, the Andrews government has the perfect opportunity to help Victorian renters cut their energy bills, while creating good local jobs and reducing climate pollution at the same time.
“Our plan would see standards phased in gradually, giving landlords plenty of notice and the opportunity to spread investment over several years. This will keep costs affordable and minimise the risk of unintended consequences such as rent increases and evictions.
“A basic package of efficiency measures could cost around $5000 over five years – probably less for landlords who already keep their properties in good repair. That’s only around 5 percent of median rental income of $20,000 a year.
“This is not an onerous obligation – particularly when set against the benefits both for individuals and Victoria’s economy and environment.
“In this day and age, we should be able to ensure property owners run their business in a way that avoids endangering other people’s safety and well-being, in the same way that restaurant owners, transport providers and a host of other businesses face obligations relating to public safety,” said Environment Victoria Efficiency Campaigner Anne Martinelli.
Anne Martinelli, Efficiency Campaigner, Environment Victoria
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