Last updated on 21/03/2024


Better Renting recently released its ‘Cruel Summers’ report, which revealed that renters faced unsafe indoor temperatures this summer, with significant impacts on their health and well-being. In response, Asthma Australia has renewed its call for an Australian parliamentary inquiry into homes, health and the environment. 

The report drew on data from more than 100 participants to track their experiences during this summer’s extreme conditions, which were compounded by rising cost-of-living pressures and a tight rental market, underscoring the urgent need for energy-efficient rental homes.  

In its report, Better Renting advocates for the introduction of minimum energy performance standards for rental homes to ensure they can provide a safe and comfortable living environment. 

Asthma Australia conducted a nationally representative survey of 5,000 people in 2022, which found that certain asthma triggers were prevalent in many homes and the issue could not easily be addressed.  

Almost one third of people with asthma and allergies had worse symptoms when at home, suggesting their home is the opposite of the safe, healthy and secure living environment it should be. Seventeen per cent of renters said they were not confident to make changes to improve the air quality inside their home. One third of renters also reported they couldn’t make changes they would like to because they do not own their home, with renters describing difficulties getting landlords or real estate agents to address triggers or approve them to take action in their home.  

Asthma Australia CEO Michele Goldman said “The compounding impacts of climate change in Australia are reinforcing the importance of having a healthy and safe home that provides protection against temperature extremes and other climate disasters. The research by Better Renting has again demonstrated the urgency of improving standards for rental homes.“ 

There is a significant need for improvements to Australian rental homes to protect renters from the health impacts of climate change, which are compounded by poor housing conditions and cost of living pressures. 

Asthma Australia has been advocating for improvements such as financial supports for low-income households to improve home health; incentives for landlords to improve rental home health; improving social housing and increasing standards for new homes and education programs to raise awareness around home health. 

 “Governments across Australia are implementing initiatives to improve residential energy efficiency and drive housing improvements. However, these policies need to incorporate a health focus to ensure all homes provide a healthy living environment, meaning they are comfortable during temperature extremes, well-sealed to prevent the entry of outdoor air pollutants, free from indoor air pollution sources such as gas cooktops, and have appropriate ventilation to ensure healthy air quality.”  

“Asthma Australia is calling on the Parliament of Australia to hold an inquiry on homes, health and the environment to encourage prioritising the elements of a healthy home and the benefits of a healthy home as a social and cultural determinant of health in Australia,” Ms Goldman said. 

The inquiry would consider the health and population groups that are most impacted by living in poor-quality or sub-standard housing, actions and mechanisms to improve the health of homes and the factors outside the home, such as air pollution and impacts from climate change, that impact households.  

The ‘Cruel Summers’ report is available to read here. 

Asthma Australia’s Homes, Health and Asthma in Australia is available here.