Calls for compulsory cooling to be included in Victoria’s minimum standards for rental properties are once again being made as the state swelters through a hot summer.
Rental properties must include heating in the main living area under the legislated requirements implemented over the past few years — but there is no requirement for cooling.
The state government concluded it was likely landlords would install reverse-cycle airconditioners to meet the new requirement of a fixed heater in the main living area, and this would provide the additional benefit of cooling with no or minimal additional cost.
But many rental properties remain hot boxes with no cooling and cheap wall heaters.
There is also no requirement for window flyscreens, although tenants may install their own.
Tenants Victoria chief executive Jennifer Beveridge said climate change was having “an increased and negative impact” on renters, including those in “very hot homes” in summer.
“There is certainly scope to do more regarding beefing up minimum standards generally, including considering introducing an insulation standard for rental homes,” she said.
“We need to explore practical and innovative solutions for the climate challenge that renters currently face – and it’s more than timely to start exploring these matters now.”
Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said insulation was key to maintaining liveable temperatures while keeping energy consumption low, but there were no requirements for any.
“What we want is in summer, for a renter to be able to keep their home cool enough to live in it, cook in it and have friends around without having to worry about the bill,” he said.
The minimum standard for heating had resulted in reverse-cycle airconditioners for some, he said, but others had gas heaters installed, which was counterintuitive to the government’s gas reduction targets, and in some cases no action had been taken at all.
Victorian Greens leader Samantha Ratnam said during summer some renters were “being forced to live in homes that are over 30 degrees inside”.
“With climate change making our summers hotter, it is even more crucial that minimum standards for renters including standards for effective cooling,” she said.
“That’s why the Greens want our state’s minimum standards updated to include ceiling insulation and draught proofing for window and door gaps, and airconditioning or an alternative form of cooling.”
Ms Beveridge noted Tenants Victoria was pleased the state government had begun responding to climate change issues in housing with the introduction of energy-efficient split-system airconditioning units in public housing homes in the state’s hottest towns in northern Victoria.
A state government spokeswoman said it would “continue to assess and monitor the minimum standards to ensure they’re meeting the needs of renters”.
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Originally published as Renting in Victoria: Why there is no cooling standard for rental properties