FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
5 FEBRUARY 2020
Home baked: Rental homes & hot weather put tenant lives at risk
Australian renters are significantly more vulnerable to the potentially fatal health impacts of extreme heat than homeowners, new analysis from advocacy organisation Better Renting has found.
The Home Baked: Housing, heat, and health report finds that in hot weather, substandard housing quality, hostile landlords, and poor urban design threaten the physical and mental health of many renters across the country, especially those on low-incomes.
Joel Dignam, Executive Director, Better Renting, said: “Heatwaves are Australia’s deadliest natural hazard, and are being made worse every year by climate change. Renters stuck in unsafe homes around the country are on the frontline of this worsening crisis.”
“Some of the most vulnerable members of our society rent homes that are substandard and nearly impossible to keep cool in the summer at an affordable cost.
“But often, they are too powerless or afraid of eviction to ask their landlords for measures like better insulation, ceiling fans, or other improvements. 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,” said Dignam.
Better Renting found that renters are four times more likely to be unable to keep comfortably cool in the summer. Renters are also between three and six times as likely to be living in “poor” or “derelict” rated housing than owners.
Sydney renter and Sydney Alliance campaign coordinator Liuanga Palu, said: “My family rents an overpriced shoebox apartment in Marrickville, Sydney. With no air conditioning and poor energy efficiency, it gets up to 36°C indoors in the summer, and the fans just circulate hot air. My father's health is suffering in these unrelenting heatwaves and indoor heat—and our landlord continues to ignore the issue."
Melbourne Renter Anna Thomas, 34, said: "As a Darwinian, I'm used to hot temperatures, but our poorly insulated Melbourne house gets so hot indoors that I can't sleep in my bedroom if temperatures exceed 30°C for a few days in a row. While I have to sleep on the couch or even outdoors, our landlord is so tuned out it's not even worth asking for for better insulation or cooling".
Canberra renter and vet nurse Erin Gillan, 28 said, “It can get as hot as 40°C inside my house in the summer, and my pets and I have little choice but to endure these conditions. 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.”
Adelaide renter Cedar Charlton, 21, said: “On a hot day, there's no way to stay cool inside. I use fans but they just blow hot air around, and there's an air-conditioner but it needs repairs. Once I got heatstroke inside my own house. I felt my vision going blurry and I needed to call a friend to come over and help."
Brisbane renter Melanie McAuliffe, 24, said: "My home has lots of doors and windows that don't shut properly, no ceiling fans, and all the bedrooms face west. It gets hotter inside than outside and in summer I can't use my bedroom or the kitchen for whole chunks of the day. We're paying rent, but we can't use the space."
Brisbane renter, Emily Buster, said:“Living in an older house in the South of Brisbane becomes unbearable in the middle of summer. We don’t have ceiling fans, air conditioning or adequate insulation so we resort to spray bottles, floor fans or heading out of the house for most of the day to keep cool. We shouldn’t have to resort to measures like this, we need the government to act now on climate change and provide more incentives for making old houses like ours more energy efficient so renters like us don’t have to suffer”.
For interviews with Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam, renters in various states, and medical experts on the health impacts of extreme heat contact Celia Huang - 0422 521 763 / firstname.lastname@example.org