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The Australian Capital Territory will introduce new energy efficiency standards for rental properties from April, requiring improved ceiling insulation.

The new regulation will require rental homes with no ceiling insulation or existing insulation rated less than R2 to have insulation installed or upgraded to R5, the level typically used in new builds. Rental homes with ceiling insulation currently rated at R2 or above will not need upgrades as they already meet the requirements.

Over 60 per cent of rental homes are already compliant with the proposed standard and this standard will ensure that the remainder of the homes meet this requirement, including both private rentals and public housing properties.

Territory Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction, Shane Rattenbury, said the new rules would ensure comfortable living standards for renters.

“Many renters in the ACT live in housing that is not well insulated and this impacts their health, comfort, and happiness at home. It’s unfair that those with the least capacity to pay often live in properties that are the most expensive to heat and cool. Up to 35 per cent of heat is lost through the ceiling over the colder months in an uninsulated Canberra house,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“In addition to meeting the standard in public housing properties, the Territory Government will invest in public housing energy efficiency improvements. This will include replacing gas appliances (such as hot water and heating and cooling systems) with energy efficient electric alternatives that are cheaper to run and support our transition away from gas by 2045.

“These minimum standards are essential for assisting renters with their quality of life and energy costs, and the phase-in period and no-interest loans will assist rental providers to satisfy the new requirements in a balanced way.

“Insulation is the most effective and efficient way to quickly improve energy efficiency in rental properties. The Government will continue to examine other energy efficiency measures that could be implemented in future years.”

The regulation will commence on 1 April 2023 and will have a phase-in period to 30 November 2026. During the phase in period, rental providers will be required to meet the standard within nine months of a new lease being signed for the property. 

From 1 December 2026 properties will need to comply, or be in the process of complying, regardless of whether a new lease has been signed, and new properties entering the rental market will have three months to comply with the standard.

From 1 April 2023 it will also be mandatory for rental providers to include details on whether their property is compliant with the minimum standard in all rental advertisements and in new residential tenancy agreements.

In conjunction with the new standard, and to support rental providers in meeting the standard, the Government’s Sustainable Household Scheme will be expanded to make insulation an eligible product. This means eligible landlords will be able to access zero interest loans of up to $15,000 to cover the cost of installing insulation.

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