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Aussie renters sweaty and stressed: 'It’s hell'

Aussie renters are sweltering through temperatures above 40 degrees, new research has found.

Aussie renters
Aussies are dealing with excessive heat in their rental properties, a new report has found. (Source: Getty)

Aussie renters are suffering through “hell” during the hot summer months, with internal temperatures topping 40 degrees in some states.

Better Renting’s Sweaty and Stressed report tracked the temperature and humidity of 77 rental homes across Australia from December 2022 to February 2023.

Indoor temperatures were above “safe levels” 45 per cent of the time, it found, with maximum temperatures as hot as 46.4 degrees in New South Wales, 42.1 degrees in Queensland and 51.8 degrees in Tasmania.

The World Health Organization recommends a healthy temperature range inside homes of between 18 and 22 degrees.

Many renters had been reluctant to use cooling appliances like air conditioners or fans this Aussie summer, due to high energy costs, the report found.

“When your rent and your energy costs are going up, one thing people cut back on is cooling,” Better Renting executive director Joel Dignam said.

“But when you’re in a substandard home, this means suffering in excessive indoor heat. Even in this milder summer, we saw worrying indoor temperatures.”

Rising temperatures are particularly challenging for older renters in public housing, according to Awhina Kapa who works with Victorian not-for-profit cohealth.

“Our residents are using local pubs and pokies to get relief from the heat at night,” Kapa said.

“We are seeing these residents struggling to pay for necessities such as toilet paper, bread and milk due to feeling the pressure to spend money while inside these venues.”

Bad housing to blame

Substandard housing was the root cause of the problem, the report found. Renters spoke about poorly designed homes, lack of insulation making them feel “cooked from above”, as well as landlords who were reluctant to fix any problems.

“I wish I could get some blinds on the windows, but the landlords haven't even fixed the broken aircon that's been broken since we moved in,” Andrew, a renter in South Australia, said.

"It’s depressing. We live in an uninsulated 50s shack and it’s honestly like living in a tent, except a tent would probably get a better cross-breeze," Western Australian renter Alex said.

“It’s hell. I feel extremely restricted in terms of what I can do and where I can go in the house. So the main living room, my bedroom and the kitchen are too hot to use,” Archie, a renter in Victoria, said.

Better Renting is calling on the government to introduce minimum energy-efficiency standards to ensure rental homes are decent to live in.

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