HomeLifeAustralian rental properties too cold and damp

Australian rental properties too cold and damp

Many Australian tenants are living in rental properties that are colder and damper than what is considered safe by World Health Organization (WHO) standards, a new report has found.

Tenant advocacy group Better Renting has released a shocking report that shows temperatures inside some rental homes in Australia regularly drop below 18 degrees Celsius in winter – the WHO minimum ‘safe and balanced indoor temperature’.

The report found rental properties in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT sit under 18C more than 80 per cent of the time.

Better Renting recruited 75 renters around the country and installed tracking devices in their homes to record temperature and humidity levels at one-minute intervals, between 13 June and 31 July this year.

Read: Renting pensioners left penniless, will the government help?

Rentals in the ACT had the lowest average minimum temperature at 7.4C, followed closely by Tasmania at 7.5C. NSW and Victorian rentals fared a little better, at 10.5C and 9.5C respectively – still well below WHO guidelines.

Indoor humidity levels above 70 per cent increase the risk of damp and mould, with WHO guidelines stating that 40 to 60 per cent humidity is ideal.

But average humidity levels were above 60 per cent in all states and territories, with NSW recording the highest average with 70.3 per cent of homes above the guidelines.

Better Renting says the issues stem mainly from Australia’s relatively poor building standards in relation to insulation and heat retention.

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“The most common housing issues were a lack of insulation, draughtiness and heat-loss through naked windows,” the report states.

“Ceiling insulation in particular is a concern, as up to a third of winter heat loss is through the ceiling.

“A lack of insulation makes it harder to increase a temperature through heating, and means that warmth is lost more rapidly when heating ceases.”

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any practical way to force landlords to improve the standards of their buildings.

Read: How cold is too cold? Getting home temperatures right

Tenants can take the case to their state or territory civil and administrative tribunal – and they may even win – but there is nothing to stop the landlord raising rent astronomically and forcing the tenant out.

With international borders now open, the federal government is pushing for skilled migration of between 180,000 and 200,000 per year to alleviate labour shortages. And that’s set to put even more pressure on a rental market already at breaking point.

According to real estate research group SQM, the national vacancy rate for rentals is sitting at around one per cent.

With the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) lifting interest rates four times in as many months, many landlords are upping the rent to cover their increased mortgage payments.

This will only serve to decrease the power of existing renters to force improvements.

Better Renting is calling for national minimum energy efficiency standards to be introduced to compel landlords to maintain their properties.

“Governments should require rental properties to meet a minimum energy efficiency standard before they can be rented out,” says Better Renting.

“This standard should prompt retrofits like ceiling insulation and window treatments, that improve heat retention, as well as measures like efficient reverse-cycle heating systems that are a much cheaper source of warmth in winter compared to ducted gas or plug-in heaters.”

Do you rent your home? How have you found the indoor temperature this winter? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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