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Choice callout - Renters home insulation

With winter fast approaching Choice is wanting to talk to renters with poor home insulation and high power bills. Have you tried to get your landlord to improve the insulation? What did they say? Share your story with Choice investigative reporter Jarni - jblakkarly@choice.com.au

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Hi @jblakkarly, did you also want contributions from landlords as well…those which may have installed insulation voluntarily (without request) or installed it on request of a tenant…or those who chose to on request?

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… or those who already had it because they lived in the house prior to moving interstate and renting it out, yet the renter complained none the less? Even though the insulation was top notch - rent a 42 square home on acreage with fully ducted RC and think a power bill is a big issue? How about the renter, who claimed hardship, then ‘getting done’ for millions in a Federal fraud case and still thinking hard done by? not all renters are saints :wink: My experience might be unusual, but I experienced it none the less.

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It might be useful to broaden the scope.

The same applies to renters with Summer not that far away? I recollect some near 4 figure quarterly power bills from summer in FNQ. Ouch!! Back when power was half the cost it is today.

P.S.
I’ve been a tenant with 11 leases over 40 years, and the owner of 4 rentals with many tenants over 30 years. I know which I’d rather be. An owner occupier. The system is broken from both points of view, with the RE Letting Agents and Strata Management Businesses the only winners.

I hope Jarni has some success in obtaining relies.

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I’ll bite on this from a good mate who has a rental on his rural property, noting as a third person response my comment is anecdotal.

His questions about most anything with the rental house are:

  • is the house maintained? (if not he maintains it. He has a periodic inspection visit and tends to anything he sees going bad as well as problems his tenant reports. That itself almost seems unusual.) He does that to keep longer term tenants as well as preserving his investment in the house. Long term he has the option to subdivide and sell that house as an individual property.
  • if he improves anything above its as-let condition who pays for it? Does/can he raise the rent or is it out of his own pocket? If he raises the rent is it still competitive in his area? Is the improvement one that adds value for a tenant so they are willing to pay more, some tenants being lifelong renters and others who are saving every possible dollar for a deposit/purchase? With skyrocketing prices ROI is pushing rental prices up and many renters are already living at the limit of their means.

OT but related, his tenants painted the interior to suit at their own cost, colours getting approved. He declined to fund it since it would add zero value to the next let if those tenants left; even though it contributed to long term (8~10 year?) maintenance he was thus able to delay.

To the modified question, if he added insulation with or without request it would be out of his own (self funded retirement) pocket, so if he could not raise the rent accordingly as a business proposition why should he? How many renters would pay or contribute since they could be out of home at the drop of a decision to sell the property, timing unknown.

I periodically opine that tax laws in some countries such as the USA encourage businesses to build and operate apartment and townhome rental complexes as an ongoing business. There is a single owner (the company) with on-site management that takes care of everything from maintenance and security to collecting rent. It works a treat and many such complexes are near country club (retirement village) quality with pools, communal picnic/BBQ areas, and gyms. That demonstrates what governments, if their tax legislation is amenable, there is a better way than ours.

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Till the age of 63 ( 5 years ago ) I had never rented . A bad business decision by my brother led me to coming in financially to help him out and led me to loosing my home of 40 years . I became a renter , my home a 3 bedroom unit beach side sold for $525, 000 but the bank took the lot , and remember being shown some really nice properties but I had no rental history so had to settle for a place no one else wanted .

My life changed . I had good air con at my own home , I hate the heat , The latest model Rinnai Gas heater . What did I have now ? A box aircon that cuts out over 35 degrees . The landlord or should I say rental provider because in Victoria we have changed that demeaning archaic title told me they all did this . Really ??? The heater was an old Vulcan gas space with a faulty thermostat but it had been checked for fumes and safety . The rental provider had the paper work " somewhere "

This was my life now . No new car every year . Having to watch the pennies . At 63 years of age no chance of regaining a property with my name on the deed .

Five years down the track I’m still renting . 5 years at $1557 a month . When you have come from an unencumbered property debt wise that really hurts .

This year I told the owner I was putting 2 split system aircons in . It cost $5000 . I paid $3200 and he paid $1800 . I could not have stood another summer in this s… hole as it is so hot . The place is insulated or so he says .

I know this has been a bit off topic but will end it like this . Up until the age of 63 years I could look in the mirror and see someone who had worked hard and set themselves up for a comfortable retirement . New car every year etc . All I see now is a failure and rental trailer trash who has lost their dignity and is making someone else rich .

Just by the by I own an apartment in the city with my brother . He put me on the deed as half owner . I receive no income from it . The renters have not paid rent since April 2020 . They claim hardship due to the pandemic . A class action of 45 owners was won by us in court and still no money . He is $30, 000 down on rent . He lives with me and helps me out financially . We tried to get rental assistance and we were refused . I think people are profiteering due to the pandemic . When the court case concludes I will write a full post for the forum and name the property managers that told our tenants they did not have to pay . Was just informed the property managers have been collecting rent and not forwarding it on . I checked the ASX and notice they had a record year in 2020 . Strange .

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Hi Vax, would you mind sending me an email to jblakkarly@choice.com.au ? Would love to talk more about your experience.

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Have sent you an email with my contact details .

Mike

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Side issue, Safety is everyone’s responsibility and all must share the cost. New Victorian rental laws only focuses on landlords requirements… e.g. 2yr electrical & gas checks certificates but nothing about tenants responsibility (90% the source of electrical problems) : For the safety of the tenant & their visitors, Can landlords ask/demand the tenant to have all electrical equipment / appliances that plugs into landlords power points / circuit “tested and tagged” every 12 months with receipt proof. If the government is serious about safety!! 95% of all electronic / electrical equipment is double insulated (no earth in plug) thus if faulty an earth leakage (RCDs) switch & or latest landlord wiring electrical certificate will not prevent injury!! Landlords wiring does not change / alter for 50 or more years but the tenant’s equipment & cables with constant use switching on/off / movement/overheating/moisture will definitely go faulty!! (Needs to be checked & tagged by qualified tester) your thoughts?

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Welcome to the community @Ross51

Certainly as you suggest off topic. An interesting point asking what might be a tenants responsibilities.

I can recall being a tenant with a lease in 11 different properties over 35 years, and in work provided rentals another 5. Perhaps your post can be moved to another or new topic.

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Have you contacted your state Tenancy Association? They would be able to give you accurate infirmation on your rental situation and what responsibilities are the province if landlord vs Tennant.

As for the non-payment of rent by yoyr own tenants, each state has different laws but recently these have been changed as they relate to COVID. This means fir example eviction nay be back on the agenda after the suspension was lifted. Worth checking if this is now the case in Victoria.

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Thanks for the advice Karen . Re my tenants not paying the case is in the mediation stage at the moment after going to court but I don’t like what I’m hearing . When it is settled I will post and name the property manager involved . Just a quick run down .There are 42 owners involved in a class action against the property manager . I’ve dealt with the property manager and honestly if bullshit was music they would be the Australian Symphony Orchestra .

Mick

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I have no insulation and draughty gaps in the windows, walls, and floors, but not necessarily high power bills because I limit my use of the heater (which is a small, radiant bar heater only used at night in front of the TV). The assumption that cold homes lead to high power bills assumes that the renter is powering up some heating to make the place comfortable. In my experience including renting in Melbourne, Sydney, and Canberra for over 10 years, I just suffer through the cold, as a radiant bar heater doesn’t do much anyway unless you’re sitting right in front of it, and I don’t like to spend the money/emissions/electricity on excessive heating. I think renters put up with a lot because they have to. As for asking the landlord to improve things - I gave up years ago. If they won’t fix broken windows, peeling ceilings, gas leaks etc. there’s no chance they’ll care about insulation. Lump it or move is the attitude.

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My rental property is not only not insulated but also poorly designed so it’s cold in winter and hot in summer. I live in Brisbane and sometimes it’s actually warmer outside (and conversely cooler in summer) than it is inside. Last year when my daughter and I were both working and studying from home due to Covid, our electricity usage went through the roof trying to stay warm. Due to the state gov’t subsidies, the cost of my electricity bills only increased slightly but it would have been pretty bad if the subsidy hadn’t been available.

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