Greens push for more transparency in rental advertising, giving renters more info and choice

 

In marking twenty years since Energy Efficiency Ratings (EERs) were first published in real estate advertisements in the ACT, the ACT Greens have today called on Government to ensure legislation is enforced so that rental properties are listed with EER ratings.

The EER Scheme provides a simple score to summarise the energy efficiency of a home, similar to the star ratings on appliances like washing machines. The publishing of EER ratings in property advertisements was the result of Greens efforts in the Assembly to curb greenhouse gas emissions and ensure our housing stock is equipped for our climate.

In December 1997, Greens MLA Kerrie Tucker brought forward a Bill that “require(d) any advertising material to contain a statement of the current energy efficiency rating of those premises… making the market operate more effectively by providing consumers with information about the energy efficiency of a house.”

The first advertisements of this kind ran on 31 March 1999—twenty years ago last weekend.

This was ground-breaking legislation at the time: but that was last century.

Improvements needed

Twenty years on, the EER Scheme is still helping Canberrans choose a better home to buy or rent. However, the Scheme needs to be well-enforced if Canberrans are to fully benefit.

Greens Planning and Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur today called on the Government to ensure that more compliance checks get underway to ensure all properties listed for rent include EER ratings, where one exists. A recent random sample of 40 online rental ads in Canberra, conducted by the ACT Greens, found that:

  • Around 45% of ads listed no information regarding the property’s EER
  • Around 35% of ads were listed as “EER Unknown”, “EER N/A”, “There is no EER” “EER 0” or variations;
  • Leaving 20% where EERs were listed.

Even though the majority of these properties did not list the EER in rental advertisements, the Greens understand that the majority would have undertaken EER ratings—ratings that we believe should be clearly listed.

"Renters should have all the relevant information to hand before they sign up to a lease. This includes how energy efficient, or inefficient, a property is,” Ms Le Couteur said today. This is why 20 years ago the Greens legislation required all rental advertisers to provide the most current EER rating of their property, where these existed.

The Greens call on the government to enforce the legislation so that more Canberra renters can find out what the energy efficiency rating of a prospective property is—before they sign onto a lease and discover that the property is freezing in winter or boiling in summer.

"Energy efficient homes are far more comfortable to live in and cost-effective while helping to curb damaging greenhouse gas emissions."

A review of the EER Scheme is currently underway as part of the Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement. The Greens would like to see EERs required for all rental properties.


Greens’ land tax exemption to help tackle housing affordability crisis

 

A move from the Greens to tackle the ACT’s housing crisis has finally been realised in a new land tax exemption for socially responsible landlords.

Onwards from a Greens motion in the Assembly last year, the Government will now allow landlords to claim an exemption on their land tax if they rent their house out to eligible low and moderate income tenants through a registered community housing provider.

“Renting out properties below market rates is a great opportunity for people who are prepared to go part of the way to help their fellow Canberrans,” Greens Housing spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“Offering a land tax discount to these landlords is an incentive and a reward for doing something concrete, and quite significant, to address the ACT’s housing affordability crisis.

“The Greens are really pleased to see this item from the 2008 Parliamentary Agreement finally realised.

“In terms of leveraging affordable rental outcomes, this represents excellent value for Government investment.

“The Government should also ensure that landlords are made aware of this opportunity,” Ms Le Couteur added.

The legislation provides for the scheme to run for two years at this stage. However, the Greens believe that take-up could be improved if this were an ongoing scheme.

This scheme will also assist with the implementation of a 2016 Labor-Greens Parliamentary Agreement item, which is the establishment of a not-for-profit real estate agency, based on Homeground in Victoria. Local community housing provider, CHC, has won the contract to provide this service.


Major parties water down Greens call for major new plan to tackle hot homes in climate crisis

The major parties have teamed up to water down a motion before the Assembly today that would help ensure that new homes are well designed and built for warming summer temperatures.

 “When the city swelters, we shouldn’t have Canberrans—including vulnerable older people, public housing tenants, and children—living in blisteringly hot homes that are like saunas in summer,” Greens Planning spokesperson Caroline Le Couteur said today.

“Yet we keep building apartments and townhouses that aren’t being designed or built for a warming climate.“We are disappointed that the major parties today have ruled out ‘future proofing’ the city’s apartments for the realities of climate change.

“This situation is only going to get worse. In 2050, Canberrans can expect to experience more than 100 days a year that are over 30 degrees—far and beyond what we’re currently used to, or building for.

“Buildings built now will still be standing in 2050, yet the major parties can’t seem to get it together to prevent Canberra homes from becoming practically unliveable. At a time when the climate is already in crisis, this is no time for delay.

“This was a real opportunity to show leadership, and both the major parties have bungled it.

“The Greens have fought hard for action on this issue for decades, and will continue to advocate for this issue to ensure homes in our city remains liveable in the climate crisis. 

“While the current energy efficiency rating (EER) system has improved Canberra’s dwellings in the winter, it is clearly inadequate for the increasing summer period.”

Neither of the major parties would commit to real action, only agreeing to “investigate possible changes” in relation to:

  • Changing planning rules for apartments to bring them up to at least the standard of NSW apartments;
  • Improving monitoring of building quality.

The major parties also teamed up to vote against:

  • Better designs for new public housing, which is often home to vulnerable older Canberrans at high risk from heat.

The deadlines for action have also been removed, so the remaining work may never be delivered. 

The Greens today called on the Government to release a draft Territory Plan Variation to implement these changes for community consultation by the end of March 2020.

The Action Plan was to be delivered to the Assembly by the last sitting day in October.

 In January Canberra experienced its longest run of days above 40 degrees, while experts say the city needs to quickly adapt to more extreme heat driven by climate change.

 


Objection to the Wright KFC Proposal

The Relevant Officer

Access Canberra

by email to EPDCustomerServices@act.gov.au

 

Dear Sir/Madam

Objection to WRIGHT KFC PROPOSAL
da201834968; Block 1, Section 38, Wright

 

I write to object to this Development Application, and to support the objections of the many residents of Wright and Coombs who are concerned about the impact that this development would have on their neighbourhood.

The proposal for a KFC restaurant on this site should be rejected.  It is not a suitable proposal for the site and can therefore be rejected under section 120 (b) of the Planning and Development Act.  It is also inconsistent with the objectives of the Mixed Use Zone (Objectives c, f, g and h).

This proposal has the following major problems, which will have a significant impact on the local community:

  • It is on a quiet residential street (Gornall Street) with homes to be built opposite and will affect local residents with traffic, noise, light and odour
  • The proposal will impact on the attractiveness of the whole area, including the park and nearby homes
  • The design is very bad for active travel
  • Fast food is bad for health and this location will encourage children using the park to eat fast food

Odour, traffic and noise

The restaurant will be located very close to current and planned homes on Gornall Street.  Residents of these homes would be severely affected by:

  • Late-night and early morning noise from passing cars, car doors and restaurant machinery. This will have a particularly-bad impact because the car park is to be located on the Gornall Street-side of the site
  • Bright lights shining into bedrooms from both signage and car park lighting. Commercial lighting is usually much brighter than residential lighting, and is not suitable for this area
  • The grease odour that KFC restaurants emit, which many people find stomach-churning

Impact on the attractiveness of the area

The design and location of the proposal mean a big visual impact on the whole neighbourhood.  Instead of having an attractive residential feeling, the park and surrounding homes will be faced with a car park and drive-through.  Putting these parts of the development on the street-facing sides of the development is particularly objectionable – the design puts its ugliest areas right where they will have the biggest visual impact on the neighbourhood.

Bad for walking and cycling

The design is very bad for walking and cycling, and is clearly not in line with Mixed Use Zone objectives F and G, which call for promoting active living and providing a high quality public realm.  Putting the car park and drive through on the street-front sides of the restaurant means there is no active shopfront facing onto the street.  There is also no way for people walking to get safely to the front door of the restaurant.

Health impacts

There is a large body of health research that links fast food consumption to obesity and related health problems.  Fast food should only be eaten occasionally as part of a balanced diet.  Putting a KFC directly opposite a park will encourage children and teenagers to eat fast food at unhealthy levels.

Thank you for considering my objection, and those of concerned local residents.  I urge you to listen to the local community and reject this proposal.

Yours sincerely

Caroline Le Couteur MLA

ACT Greens Member for Murrumbidgee

ACT Greens Spokesperson for Planning, Transport, City Services, Housing, Arts, Animal Welfare, Community Services, Women, Seniors and Social Inclusion


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