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 safe 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 also missing out on a big opportunity to lower bills and cut climate pollution.
The good news is that new rental laws passed the Victorian Parliament in September 2018. As a result of campaigning by the One Million Homes Alliance (of which Environment Victoria is a member) these laws included new powers for the government to set minimum standards for energy and water efficiency, that rental homes would be required to meet before they could 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.
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.
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.
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’.