So you want to make the place you rent more sustainable? The law on rental properties can be a tad unclear on when you need to ask your landlord’s permission and when you don’t, but here are some things you should definitely ask permission for. Here's a list of things to ask your landlord to do.
These are things that are easy enough to fix yourself, but landlords are legally obliged to maintain them. So if you’ve got a responsive landlord or real estate agent, you might as well ask them to get them fixed. If you’re not sure if your cistern is leaking, put some dye in the top. If it appears in the bowl without flushing, your toilet is wasting water. A toilet with a visible, constant leak can waste 96,000L of water a year!
If your landlord is replacing any “appliance, fitting or fixture” which uses or supplies water, they’re legally obliged to make the replacement efficient. This includes taps, showers, washing machines, dishwashers and toilets, but only where the landlord has supplied these, and only when they’re being replaced, not just repaired. If your landlord doesn’t put in an efficient replacement, they have to pay the water bill – speak to the Tenants Union for more information.
Now insulation is something that you should definitely ask your landlord to do – in most cases it will cost less than $2000. If you want to get an idea of what it might cost before approaching your landlord, try this handy calculator. The Victorian government has promised to re-introduce a subsidy to assist with the cost of installing insulation and we are staying on their case to make sure they deliver.
Asking your landlord to install a decent heating system might sound like a crazy idea, but it should increase the value of the property, help them attract and keep tenants and they may even be able to get a tax deduction for it. Check out our section on approaching your landlord or real estate agent, and here for more information on which systems are best.
Try sticking a piece of paper between the oven and the oven door. If it slides down, your oven seals need to be replaced, so that they can keep the heat in when you’re baking and save on energy. Your landlord is obliged to “ensure that the rented premises are maintained in good repair”, which means that if they own the oven, you can ask them to replace the seals.
If you have insulation and downlights, you need downlight covers. Downlights get really hot, so next to insulation and without covers they’re a fire hazard. The other option is to leave a gap in the insulation around the downlights. The problem with this is it lets the warmth of your home out through the gaps, and can also create problems if anyone goes up into your roof and moves the insulation batts around, for example tradespeople, who’ve been known to shove batts out of the way while they’re working. If you’re not sure if you already have downlight covers or insulation, stick your head through your manhole and have a look. If you need to climb into the roof, be careful! Turn the mains power off first in case there is any dodgy wiring, wear a dust mask, and only stand on the joists – it’s a much better idea than falling through the ceiling!
Check out our How to approach your real estate agent or landlord section for ways to explain to your landlord that lots of these changes are actually in their financial interests.
Top tips to make your home more comfortable, affordable and sustainable
How to approach your real estate agent or landlord
Sustainable renting and the law