A Sweltering Summer Story: Alison’s Rental Experience in Melbourne

Alison has been a renter in Victoria for the past four years. From the beginning of her tenancy, she has wanted better cooling for her home. Despite the sweltering summer heat, Alison’s requests for simple, affordable upgrades such as planting trees in front of windows have gone unheeded or been rejected by her property manager.

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Alison moved into her single-storey brick home in Seaford four years ago. The first couple of years the summers were manageable, but the Christmas before last was a completely different story. The temperature inside her home routinely climbed into the 30s, making it unbearable to be inside. Despite trying to cool down the house by opening the windows and doors overnight, the scorching heat outside meant it had little effect. She even went so far as to put reflective screens on the windows behind the closed blinds, but to no avail. Once the bricks heated up, her home became like an oven.

Temp reading at 9am: 20 degrees
Temperature reading at 9am
Temperature reading at 3pm

In the past, Alison has raised her concerns about the heat with her property manager, including passing on information about rebates for replacement of gas with more energy efficient electric options. When the gas heater needed to be replaced, she asked for it to be replaced with a unit that provided both heating and cooling. However, her request was declined with the property manager claiming that the program had “run out of rebates”. Alison’s dread of the impact of longer heatwaves on her health and wellbeing is compounded by the lack of ceiling fans. As her rent continues to increase, she worries that pushing for a safe and comfortable home will result in her losing her lease.

Alison has taken matters into her own hands and has four fans and a personal cooling ‘Coolzy’ unit, which creates a bubble of cool air around her when working at the table or watching television. On particularly hot days, she has to leave the house during the day, spending time with her sister who has air conditioning or riding the trains for several hours just to escape the heat. All of this costs Allison money, while small investments by the landlord could make the apartment cooler.

Collection of fans and portable cooling devices
Alison’s collection of fans and cooling devices
Sun and heat entering hallway despite closed venetian blinds
Even with the venetian blinds closed, sunlight and heat streams into the hallway

Despite her efforts, Alison remains frustrated that she can’t take advantage of rebates for cooling and believes that mandatory cooling standards for rental units and new housing are as essential as those for heating. Alison remains determined to join a campaign fighting for healthy and safe homes for renters, especially as the next few summers will be brutal now that El Nino is back.

If you want to get involved in the campaign, sign our petition or register as a volunteer.

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