What stops green rentals?


It’s often a slow slog making investment properties more water and energy efficient. The team at AHURI interviewed over 50 landlords to find out why.

What holds us back when it comes to making rental houses greener? A team of researchers from the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute have gone some way to answering this question in a report about the sustainability of Australia’s rental houses. The Environmental Sustainabilty of Australia’s Private Rental Housing Stock interviews landlords, tenants and agents, giving a rare view of what prompts change and what doesn’t when it comes to environmentally-efficient rental properties.

The authors share their findings with ReNew about what stops action when it comes to rental houses. In this article we focus on comments from investment property owners, while the entire report contains a broader prespective, covering tenants’attitudes, the impact of government and NGO programs and the all important real estate agents.

What stops change
The report found that many private rental investors were receptive to the idea of making minor improvements to their rental dwellings, but recognised that there were currently barriers to undertaking this work. The most common concern was the cost of taking measures to improve the energy and water efficiency of their property. Other barriers included lack of financial incentive, potential for property damage, disinterested tenants, problems with accessing property to undertake audit and installations, problems associated with gaining permission to act in a strata-titled, multi-unit dwelling, the condition of the building, the investor’s personal situation, a lack of awareness of the significance of sustainability issues in rental housing and obstructive local planning regulations.

“To get anybody to do anything at all you’re looking at $70 an hour,” said one participant when discussing the costs involved with making substantial differences to energy and water use. Others said they simply did not have enough money and were unable to take on additional loans.

Another said: “I would like information but if it involves me outlaying money I wouldn’t do it. My circumstances have changed and I can’t spend money on those properties. And anyway, why would I? [It] Doesn’t benefit me…I know that doing nothing is not congruent with my beliefs but it’s my economic reality.”

Investors also expressed concern that the costs of managing a rental property were already high and that they felt that any additional outlay would make this form of investment less attractive.

Read the full article in ReNew 115

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