"Homeworthy" standard for renters

Most rental properties are pretty inefficient, which means renters are missing out on the benefits of lower bills and healthier living conditions. That’s unfair – and it’s adding to climate pollution. The solution is minimum standards for rental houses.


Renters feeling the heat

The energy efficiency of Victorian houses is bad enough, but rental properties are even worse.

Hundreds of thousands of Victorians are living in rental homes which are dangerously hot in summer and freezing in winter, or waste too much energy to keep at a healthy temperature.

With home ownership increasingly out of reach for Victorians, more and more people are renting. The appalling state of our rental properties has become a mainstream issue the government can’t ignore.

Rental homes make up around a quarter of our housing. If they are missing out on efficiency upgrades, then Victoria is missing out on a big opportunity to cut climate pollution.

Read more in our report: ‘Bringing rental homes up to scratch’

Take 2 minutes to read our 4-page briefing paper

But with new rental laws passing the Victorian Parliament in September 2018, we now have a huge opportunity to change this situation.

Get the low-down on Victoria’s new rental laws





Why we need minimum standards

Right now, the only standard Victorian rental homes need to meet is to have a smoke alarm. That’s it. There doesn’t need to be a heater, the windows don’t need to open, and you can forget about insulation or draught-sealing.

At Environment Victoria, we think renters deserve better. At the very least, a rental home should be a liveable home.

The updated Residential Tenancies Amendment Act 2018 creates the power to set minimum standards, including for energy and water efficiency, that rental homes would be required to meet before they could be leased.

This is a huge win, made possible by the thousands of Victorians who have been calling for this important reform for years because they know improving home efficiency is the single most effective way to lower energy bills and cut climate pollution.

We’ve been heard on efficiency standards for rental homes. So now let’s use our voices and votes to make Victoria a leader on climate action.

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So why are minimum standards so important?

While many landlords do the right thing by their tenants in terms of repairs and maintenance, it’s also true that most landlords don’t take advantage of voluntary efficiency programs even when they are free. There’s not much incentive for landlords to invest in relatively invisible measures like insulation or draught-sealing while it’s the tenants who reap the benefits of lower bills and better living conditions.

The only way to fix this problem is to set minimum standards for efficiency, health and security that all rental properties need to meet before they can be leased.

We’re looking forward to working with government to get strong standards in place as soon as possible, so that all renters can start to enjoy the benefits of living in efficient homes.






Renters in their own words

Working with other community organisations in the One Million Homes Alliance, we’ve compiled a database of renters and responsible landlords who want to tell their story to the media. Here are just a few.

On hot days we often hang survival blankets and shade-cloth over the windows to stop the heat. It means living in the dark, but it’s better than cooking in a glasshouse.



Our house is so poorly insulated that it’s basically uninhabitable in hot weather. We’ve had to buy a portable cooler which helps a bit, but costs a lot to run. I’m on a disability pension, so we’re having to dip into my super to pay bills.



It’s really frustrating to be surrounded by so many simple things that wouldn’t actually cost much to fix, but have such a big impact on our quality of life. It’s not much to ask that landlords spend a bit of money here and there just to keep things liveable.



It is cold and draughty in winter…and the roof has leaked for 15 years. I live with a bucket permanently in the doorway of the kitchen.



Our house gets to 35 degrees inside in summer and as low as 10 degrees in winter. I’m worried about climate change, so I don’t want to run the heater all day if I know all that energy is just blowing straight through the roof.



As a landlord, keeping your house up to a good standard means that you get respect from the renter. Everyone should be entitled to a minimum standard in their home, even if you do not own it.



Read more rental stories

A once-in-a-decade opportunity

We’ve been working with our One Million Homes Alliance partners to make sure minimum standards are included in the new legislation, to fix this problem which has been in the ‘too hard’ basket for too long. Now we’re looking forward to working with government to use the power in the legislation and get strong standards in place as soon as possible.

Minimum standards are not much to ask. Responsible landlords who already recognise the benefits of keeping their properties in good condition would easily meet basic standards. The rest would have plenty of notice to get their properties up to scratch. And they’d be prevented from passing on unreasonable costs through rent increases. Find out more in our blog post ‘8 myths and facts about efficiency standards for rental homes’.

8 myths and facts about efficiency standards for rental homes

Get the low-down on Victoria’s new rental laws and what they mean for efficiency standards

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