Minimum standard an important first step toward healthier homes and lower energy bills for renters

9 November 2021

The ACT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) today welcomed the opening of consultation on the ACT Government’s proposal to require rental properties across the ACT to meet a minimum standard for ceiling insulation.

ACTCOSS CEO, Dr Emma Campbell said: “Over one third of Canberrans rent their home and they are paying the highest rents of any Australian capital city. These households should be guaranteed that their home doesn’t compromise their health or contribute to further financial stress through poor energy efficiency and high energy bills.

“ACTCOSS welcomes the ACT Government’s announcement that it will start to deliver on its commitment to introduce minimum energy efficiency standards for rental properties by requiring social housing and private rental providers to meet a minimum standard for ceiling insulation.

“This is a good start, but it is only a start. We are pleased that the ACT Government recognises this and has committed to consider additional measures in future stages.

“We also welcome the consideration of measures complimenting ceiling insulation such as draught proofing, double glazing or curtaining in this first stage. These are critical to ensuring the benefits of better ceiling insulation are fully realised – rather than literally slipping through the gaps.

“Future stages of this policy will have to address the need for minimum standards around energy efficient heating and cooling of rental properties. The ACT Government should set out a clear path towards realising this during this first stage.

“Establishing minimum standards for rental properties is essential to achieving more equitable outcomes for tenants, many of whom are already experiencing significant financial stress. The ACT has the highest rate of low-income private rental households experiencing rental stress at 73%. As well as paying Australia’s highest rents, these households have also seen their electricity and gas bills increase by over 25% in the past five years and will see their electricity bills increase by a further 12% this year.

“ACTCOSS welcomes the introduction of minimum energy efficiency standards alongside financial support for social and affordable housing providers to make necessary improvements through the Vulnerable Household Energy Support Scheme.”

Dr Campbell concluded: “In consultation with our members, ACTCOSS will be making a submission in response to the ACT Government’s consultation paper on minimum energy efficiency standards for rental homes in the ACT which closes on Sunday 19 December 2021. We encourage the Canberra community – especially renters – to engage in this to ensure their voices are heard.”

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