Queensland needs Rental Reforms – and we’re inviting YOU to help make them happen!
Over the next week, we have a fantastic opportunity to influence Queensland’s rental laws to allow renters to live in more affordable, sustainable, healthy and comfortable homes. The Queensland government is currently reforming its rental laws, but just needs a little help to get them over the line. We’re sure it’s accidental, but with all their talk of affordability, sustainability, climate resilience, healthy homes and equity, they forgot the one thing that delivers all five to renters: mandatory minimum energy efficiency rental standards. These minimum standards could be features-based (e.g. insulation or draught sealing), or performance-based (e.g 5 star homes).
Energy efficiency allows us to reduce the amount of energy we need to be comfortable in our homes, reduce our power bills, and to reduce emissions sooner. But currently most renters miss out on energy efficiency and its benefits, including affordability, low emissions and healthier homes.
If we want climate resilient, affordable and low emission rental homes, we need to join other states and get energy efficiency minimum standards and mandatory disclosure for rental properties in Queensland.
The Queensland Government’s public consultation on the rental law reform process closes soon! To have your say, we urge you to make a submission to the Government by 5pm on Monday 29th May 2023 and help our decision makers understand the importance of energy efficiency.
Imagine if you could rent a home and could just trust it was energy efficient, climate resilient and comfortable, that it was cheap to run, that it was clean and not relying on dirty gas, that you knew the energy rating of all of your appliances, what energy efficiency features your home has and the energy performance rating of the house itself – and that you would have an idea about how much you’d expect to pay for electricity on top your rent! However, there is currently no incentive for landlords to improve the efficiency of properties they rent out to people. How hot or cold a rental home gets during summer and winter is just as important as using clean renewable energy. But it seems the Government wants us to continue sleeping with pet dogs to keep warm!
The Queensland government has previously updated the rental law regulations so that rental properties are now required to meet improved minimum housing standards for safety, security and reasonable functionality, which will come into effect for new tenancies from 1 September 2023, and all tenancies from 1 September 2024. Unfortunately, the Government missed an opportunity and failed to include energy efficiency or thermal comfort under these minimum standards, meaning many rental properties are still way too hot to be healthy in summer and too cold in winter.
The Stage One rental reforms in 2019 acknowledged the role energy efficiency plays in housing and energy affordability, health and emission reduction, yet we are still waiting for the Queensland government to provide an equal playing field. QCOSS proposed an implementation framework in their Shifting Power report to ensure property owners have the time and support to implement these changes.
The Queensland government’s Energy and Jobs Plan has a focus on renewables and affordability , but those actions alone are inadequate. We were hoping that the Queensland Government would acknowledge the important role energy efficiency has to play in decarbonisation and affordability, and managing energy demand during peak periods in their rental law reform. But unfortunately they haven’t.
So please let the Queensland Government know that you care about energy efficiency for rental properties and want the rental law reform process to address it. This is our chance to make sure rental homes are healthy and comfortable, affordable and low carbon.
Some other points you may like to personalise your submission:
- Energy efficiency means less energy and less waste, and renters currently miss out.
- Simple features like window shading can provide energy efficiency and thermal comfort and reduce air conditioner use, as well as window shading providing privacy.
- Given that 31.7% of Queenslanders are renting, focusing our energy efficiency efforts only on homeowners ignores almost a third of the population.
- Current rental laws mean renters have no power to improve their homes.
- Many rental properties are the poorest quality homes, and most of these are rented out to low income households.
- Regulation is necessary as landlords usually don’t undertake energy efficiency upgrades, even if funded, and even if it’s of no cost to themselves. This has been the experience in NSW, Vic and QLD. The NSW Home Power Savings Program, for example, showed that only 10 percent of private landlords gave permission for small improvements such as free efficient showerheads and draught strips to be installed under the program.
- In the longer term, I want the Queensland Government to commit to performance-based Energy Efficiency Minimum Standards for Rental Properties.
- Research published by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute in November 2022 found little evidence that residential tenancy law has impacted investment in private rental housing.
- Tenants should be allowed to make reasonable minor energy efficiency modifications to their rental properties with the landlord needing to give reasons for refusal (as is the case in the ACT).
Energy Efficiency Minimum Standards are a key ask of the Power Together campaign.
Broader Rental Rights
In this Stage 2 Rental Reform review there are other amendments recommended by Tenants Queensland that we also support and encourage you to mention in any submission. Protecting the rights of renters more generally ensures compliance, fairer renting and contributes to creating an environment for energy efficiency in housing to become the norm. When renters are struggling to find a roof over their heads and fear unreasonable price increases or eviction – they do not ask for energy efficiency even when they understand its importance. Advocating for changes like limiting rent increases to the Consumer Price Index help rents to remain affordable.
You can also email your local MP using Make Renting Fair Queensland’s template – but please make sure to edit the template to help our politicians understand the importance of energy efficiency! You can find the details on making written submissions here and you can use Tenants Queensland’s draft submission for inspiration.