Call for Updated Residential Tenancies Act in Canberra

Residential tenancies act in Canberra

It’s hard to believe that many homes in an area that can experience temperatures from minus 10 degrees in winter to over 40 degrees in summer aren’t fitted with adequate thermal insulation, but such is the case in Canberra, ACT. While admittedly, minus 10 and plus 40 are at the extreme ends of the scale, these statistics still provide us with an indication of what the climate is like in the Australian Capital Territory.

100 Days of Frost Every Year

July is the coldest month in Canberra with an average maximum temperature of 11.2°C and it gets nearly one hundred days of frost every year. Many renters are currently forced to choose between braving the cold or using their heaters excessively and trying not to think about the electricity bill until it comes around.

Forty Percent of Advertised Rental Homes with Energy Rating of Zero

A recent study by Better Renting, which compared the energy ratings of homes for sale and homes for rent in the months of January and February this year, confirms that 4 out of 10 properties up for rent have an Energy Efficiency Rating (ERR) of zero, the lowest rating it’s possible to get. Conversely, only 4 out of every 100 homes for sale had the same rating. With more than half the properties for sale boasting an EER of 5 or more, it seems like home owners are looking after themselves and leaving their tenants to suffer.

Better Renting Wants Minimum Energy Efficiency Ratings for Rentals

The Comfy Homes campaign, led by Better Renting, is advocating minimum energy efficiency ratings for rental homes. Better Renting Director Joel Dignam said that almost fifty percent of renters live in houses that can be described as “glorified tents”, resulting in higher energy bills, higher carbon emissions and poor health.

Positive Results With Warm Up New Zealand

The Warm Up New Zealand – Healthy Homes program has resulted in over 300,000 existing homes being insulated in New Zealand since the program was introduced in 2009 and is considered an overwhelming success. The health benefits have been substantial and there has been a significant reduction in deaths, particularly in over 65’s who have a pre-existing respiratory or circulatory condition. The number of asthma sufferers being admitted to hospital has also decreased.

Modest Changes Like Ceiling Insulation Batts

Mr Dignam said the first step towards healthier homes in Canberra was to update the Residential Tenancies Act to include simple requirements that will actually make a difference. Things like installing ceiling insulation batts and sealing gaps to reduce draughts would be the bare minimum. Mr Dignam said that it became clear from the study that landlords were not taking the initiative to improve the thermal comfort of rental homes and needed a push from the Government. Renters can’t do much to address the issue and landlords lack the incentive, so there is an obvious need for legislation. He stated that with an increasing number of renters, Australian tenants should get a better deal.

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