Page 1388 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 6 April 2011

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Obviously not all landlords will be keen to invest the capital to bring properties up to minimum standards. But that capital investment will, in general, only improve the value of the property. Nonetheless it is all too common that long-term landlords are not concerned about the standard of properties, as they understand that it is the capital gain which will reap the larger reward when they sell. While this may be a smart investment tactic, it does not address the broader social goal of having decent rental homes for tenants to live in.

As it currently stands, landlords are passing the costs of inefficient buildings on to their tenants, and some tenants are being forced to accept substandard rentals because the rental market is so competitive. We do not think that this is a fair outcome for tenants. And we think that landlords should provide the basics of what a fair and respectable rental should be—warm, secure, ventilated in summer and without damp and mould.

It is difficult to predict what the cost of meeting minimum standards for individual houses will be, as each house will be starting off a different base. Some houses will be well below minimum standards, others may need far less work to meet the standards and some will not need any work at all.

It is also difficult to calculate exactly how much it would cost to increase a specific house to an EER of two or three, as each house is constructed and oriented differently. Most houses could be increased to an EER of two stars with relative ease by putting in high-grade ceiling and wall insulation. This applies to many common house construction types—brick veneer, double brick and weatherboard.

However, some housing constructions may prove more difficult to insulate, for example, monocrete or besser brick houses. While these houses may be able to add ceiling insulation, depending on the roof construction, they may require full external cladding to achieve the rating, and that could be potentially very expensive.

These houses are a classic example of those that will likely require an exemption from the minimum standard. And the clause we have drafted allows the minister to create exemptions from specific standards for premises or a class of premises. Exemptions can be when specific standards are impractical or unreasonably expensive, for example, as I said, insulating a monocrete house or putting hard-wired smoke alarms in houses with no access to the roof space or wiring.

In summary, we will be consulting on this bill over the next two months. We are very much looking forward to further discussions with both a range of stakeholders and other members in the chamber. At the end of the day, the Greens believe this bill is an important social justice measure and a step in the right direction on greenhouse emissions. I commend the exposure draft to the Assembly and look forward to feedback from both members of the Assembly and members of the public.

Leave of absence

Motion (by Mr Hanson) agreed to:

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