The energy efficiency of Victorian houses is bad enough, but rental properties are even worse.
Hundreds of thousands of renters are living in homes which are dangerously hot in summer and freezing in winter or cost a fortune to keep comfortable. Many renters also face other problems – from a lack of security, to persistent mould or broken windows – and often struggle to get even basic repairs done.
And if rental homes which make up around a quarter of our housing stock are missing out on efficiency upgrades, then Victoria is missing out on a big opportunity to cut greenhouse emissions.
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.
Right now the Victorian government is reviewing the legislation covering the rental sector. We’re working with our One Million Homes Alliance partners to make sure minimum standards are included and to fix this problem which has been in the ‘too hard’ basket for too long.
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.
A small but loud group of vested interests are opposed to minimum standards for rental properties. They’re counting on renters and responsible landlords remaining silent.
But there are more than 500,000 households that rent in Victoria. With a powerful and united voice, renters and responsible landlords can seize this once-in-a-decade opportunity to win better quality housing, starting with minimum standards.
The government released an Options Paper in January, and it does canvas introducing standards for ‘health, safety and amenity’. So now we just need to keep up the pressure to ensure efficiency is included as well. Read our submission to the Options Paper here, or our short briefing paper.
What if we could cut energy bills, reduce pollution and help vulnerable Victorians all at the same time? That's the clever idea behind this campaign to make one million homes more energy and water efficient.