Report: Renters feel the heat the most

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Canberra renter Erin Gillan

IGNORED by her landlord, Canberra renter Erin Gillan has no choice but to endure the heat in her house, which she says can get as hot as 40C, and is calling for the Federal Government to legislate minimum energy standards for all homes. 

“It can get as hot as 40C inside my house in the summer, and my pets and I have little choice but to endure these conditions,” says Erin.

And the 28-year-old vet nurse isn’t alone, according to a new analysis from the advocacy organisation, Better Renting. 

The report, titled “The Home Baked: Housing, Heat, and Health” shows that in hot weather, substandard housing quality, hostile landlords, and poor urban design threaten the physical and mental health of many renters, especially those on low incomes. 

Erin, who has experienced this says: “I’m afraid for my pets’ health and their lives, but my landlord continues to ignore our requests to improve the house’s energy efficiency.”

“I want our government to act on climate change to stop heatwaves from getting worse, and legislate minimum energy standards for all homes,” she says.  

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam says some of the most vulnerable members of society rent homes that are substandard and nearly impossible to keep cool in the summer at an affordable cost.

Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam

“Often, they are too powerless or afraid of eviction to ask their landlords for measures like better insulation, ceiling fans, or other improvements,” he says.

“These renters are at greater risk of heart, lung, and kidney ailments due to extreme heat, as well as mental health challenges. 

“This is a deep injustice that the government can fix by requiring our housing stock to be more energy efficient, improving access to public spaces like air-conditioned libraries, and making it easier for everyone to access clean and affordable solar energy.”

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  1. “Improving access to public spaces like air-conditioned libraries”

    I’m pretty sure anyone can go to a public space like libraries if they want to. I’m not sure its really a question of access, more of what facilities are available (I.e. I assume some are not air-conditioned?).

  2. Hi Jim, “access” is a broad idea in this context. It’s about things like library opening hours, but also time/distance to reach a library, especially for people who may have issues with mobility or transport costs.

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