Background

Following consultation in 2019, the new Residential Tenancies Regulations 2021 (the Residential Tenancies Regulations) came into effect from 29 March 2021. The Residential Tenancies Regulations affect rental providers and Victorians living in rental housing and contain supporting details about the Residential Tenancies Act changes. The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is the primary source of consumer protection for Victorians living in rental housing, while also outlining rental providers and property managers’ obligations. The Residential Tenancies Regulations also detail minor modifications renters can now make to rental properties.

The Regulations detail the minimum standard set for rental homes without any fixed heating or properties with inefficient heaters. This minimum standard ensures renters are not impacted by high energy costs or health impacts due to living in a cold home.

Combined with the standard for heating, forthcoming new minimum energy efficiency standards for ceiling insulation, draught sealing and hot water in publicly and privately rented homes in Victoria will address the major components that influence energy consumption in a home.

Information about the Residential Tenancies Regulations and details of minimum standards can be found here on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

Under regulations, a fixed heater in good working order must be present in the main living area for all rented domestic or residential properties – and that heater must meet a minimum 2-star energy efficiency star rating. The regulations will apply in two stages:

Stage 1 – On and from 29 March 2021

When a new rental agreement is signed, an existing fixed-term rental agreement rolls over into a periodic agreement, or a fixed-term rental agreement is renewed:

  1. A fixed heater in good working order must be present in the main living area of the rented premises; or
  2. If a fixed heater has not been previously installed in the rented premises’ main living area. In that case, an energy efficient fixed heater, which is in good working order, must be installed in the leased premises’ main living area.

If a rented premises is in a Class 2 building (such as an apartment), it may not be reasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater. If that is the case, a fixed heater should be installed in the rented premises’ main living area.

Stage 2 – On and from 29 March 2023

An energy efficient fixed heater in good working order must be present in the main living area of the rented premises.

If a rented premises is a Class 2 building (such as an apartment), it may not be reasonable to install an energy efficient fixed heater. If that is the case, a fixed heater should be installed in the rented premises’ main living area.

The Energy Rating Label, regulated by the government, allows you to compare the energy efficiency and running costs of appliances before you buy to reduce your electricity bill. There are two main components of the Energy Rating Label, the star rating and energy consumption. Energy consumption is about how much electricity a particular model uses whereas the star rating gives a visual representation of how efficient an appliance model is relative to other models of the same size.

For a list of heaters and star ratings visit

www.energyrating.gov.au for a list of electric reverse cycle air conditioners

or

www.aga.asn.au/directory/ for a list of gas heaters.

The Victorian Energy Upgrades program provides incentives through businesses accredited under the program to replace old heating and cooling systems with more energy efficient systems or simply purchase new energy efficient systems. Click here for more information on heating and cooling incentives under the Victorian Energy Upgrades program.

Focussing on heating the main living area will provide the greatest benefit. The main living area is where occupants will spend most of their waking hours and have the longest exposure to the thermal conditions.

Buildings are given classifications under the National Construction Code, and the minimum standards for heating apply to Class 1 and 2 of these.

Class 1 is a domestic or residential building – single, standalone single houses or horizontally attached houses, such as terrace houses, row houses or townhouses.

Class 2 is a domestic apartment building – containing two or more sole-occupancy units where people live above, beside or below each other. This class may include single-storey attached dwellings with a common space below, such as a car park.

A flueless gas heater has no flue or chimney to carry the combustion products (including carbon monoxide) outside. Some flueless gas heaters can be fixed to the wall or are portable and are plugged into a gas outlet through a wall or floor socket with a flexible hose.

The Gas Safety (Gas Installation) Regulations 2018 handles the installation of flueless space heaters.  The Gas Safety (Gas Installation) Regulations prescribe that a person carrying out gasfitting work not install or locate for use a flueless space heater or a connection device, a device to enable subsequent connection of a flueless space heater, in residential premises (including a caravan or boat). There are some exceptions where a person may replace an existing flueless space heater in residential premises with a new flueless space heater if:

  1. the heater being replaced operated on LP Gas; and
  1. the new heater operates on LP Gas; and
  2. the emission of oxides of nitrogen from the new heater does not exceed 2⋅5 ng/J; and
  1. the carbon monoxide/carbon dioxide ratio of the new heater does not exceed 0⋅002.

It is also prescribed that gasfitting work that converts a flueless space heater to operate on another type of gas is not carried out.

Under the renting laws, if there is a fixed flueless gas space heater in the main living area which meets the 2-star requirements, this will meet the minimum rental standards.

To ensure existing heaters are safe to use, Energy Safe Victoria recommends heaters are serviced by a qualified gasfitter every two years.

As of 29 March 2021, there are new requirements under the Residential Tenancies Regulations that require rental properties to have a gas safety check completed by a qualified gasfitter every two years, which includes servicing your gas heater.

An open flued gas space heater works by drawing air from the room to feed the fire and direct combustion products (including carbon monoxide) outside via the flue, fitted through the ceiling and roof.

Under the renting laws, if there is an open flued gas space heater in the main living area which meets the 2-star requirements, this will meet the minimum rental standards.

However, under certain circumstances, open flued gas space heaters can spill carbon monoxide into the space they are installed, leading to serious illness and even death. The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is currently completing a review of open flued gas space heaters and released a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) on the phase out of such appliances. The RIS identifies the preferred approach to phasing out open flued gas space heaters includes fast-tracking the implementation of changes to the Australian Standards and adopting stringent new safety requirements for open flued gas space heaters by 1 January 2022.

The changes would not apply to any open flued gas space heaters already installed.

Contact the manufacturer of the appliance or a qualified gasfitter.

To ensure existing heaters are safe to use, Energy Safe Victoria recommends heaters are serviced by a qualified gasfitter every two years.

As of 29 March 2021, there are new requirements under the Residential Tenancies Regulations that require rental properties to have a gas safety check completed by a qualified gasfitter every two years, which includes servicing your gas heater.

Page last updated: 19/04/21