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Energy-poor rentals cost NSW tenants $1.2 billion

A tenants' group says poor energy efficiency in rental homes costs households over $2700 a year.

A tenants' group says poor energy efficiency in rental homes costs households over $2700 a year. Photo: AAP

Energy-hungry rental homes are costing tenants more than $1 billion every year in extra bills, an analysis of NSW rental homes has found.

Better Renting, a grassroots tenant-driven organisation, says there are 712,000 energy inefficient rental properties in NSW, costing each household more than $2700 annually to ensure their homes are warm in winter and cool in summer.

With cost of living concerns on the rise – especially skyrocketing rents in metropolitan cities and rural NSW – Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam says politicians should prioritise improving the energy performance of rental properties.

“Every year, inefficient rental homes mean that renters are missing out on about $1.2 billion in benefits. If these people were owners, government would be on this in a flash,” he said on Tuesday.

“But because they are renters, this issue is being ignored.”

Governments should step in with tighter energy regulations to protect the millions of people in NSW who are renting homes that offer little protection from the elements, and saddle them with avoidably high-energy costs, the report says.

“What our analysis shows is that there is a free lunch here: bringing up substandard rental properties will help renters with heating and cooling, with benefits worth thousands of dollars per household.”

Retrofitting homes, not just ones damaged by floods in recent natural disasters, should be mandated, the report says.

These weather-proofing features such as ceiling insulation, draught-sealing and window treatments would reduce energy consumption.

The NSW government announced on Monday it would ban real estate agents from instigating bidding wars between prospective renters wanting to secure a lease on a property.

If elected next year Labor is promising to appoint a rental commissioner to be an advocate and voice for tenants.

Opposition Leader Chris Minns said Labor would hold a roundtable in January bringing together the NSW Tenants Union, Real Estate Institute of NSW, Tenancy Advocacy Services, Community Legal Centres, and community organisations to discuss what was needed to make renting fairer .

Around one-third of NSW people live in rented properties and rents in Greater Sydney have increased by up to 28 per cent in the past year.

“NSW Labor wants to bring experts, community groups, renters and industry representatives together to tackle look at ways we can make renting better and fairer for people across the state,” Mr Minns said.

“We have a rental crisis that needs urgent attention.”

– AAP

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