Real estate agents should not be forced to disclose the energy, greenhouse and water performance of a house, the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) has said in a submission to the government body responsible for the implementation of the policy.
“A non-regulatory approach means consumers and real estate agents will not carry the unnecessary burden and costs of mandatory disclosure of EERs,” said REIA acting president, Pamela Bennett.
The REIA’s stance was part of its submission to the Consultation Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) on the Mandatory Disclosure of Residential Building, Energy, Greenhouse and Water Performance. The RIS, which was released earlier this month, was part of a Council of Australian Governments' (COAG) decision in July 2009 to introduce a national home environmental rating scheme.
The scheme would require home owners that sell or rent houses and apartments to provide information to prospective buyers and renters about the energy, greenhouse and water performance of the home.
“The RIS modeled six options – from technically detailed assessment through to a checklist approach and a voluntary scheme,” said Ms Bennett.
“It also considered the options of disclosure at point of sale only versus point of sale and lease.”
REIA said it supported the fifth option, namely a non-regulatory approach across all jurisdictions.
REIA said it challenged the premise of the RIS, that the energy efficiency ratings (EERs) are important to consumers at the time of sale or lease.
“The current practice of disclosing EERs in the ACT tells us this is not so,” the organisation said.
In the ACT, it is compulsory for agents to include the rating in advertising materials for sale of a house, although the disclosure only factors in the thermal performance of the building structure, and doesn't include installed heating and cooling, hot water systems and lighting.
The REIA’s position is at odds with the Residential Development Council, which said in its own submission that it supported the mandatory disclosure of residential building energy, greenhouse and water performance nationally.
“Providing information to the market has the capacity to lift the energy, greenhouse and water performance of the residential sector in general,” Caryn Kakas, executive director of the Residential Development Council, said in the submission.
“Mandatory disclosure provides the opportunity to address the performance of the existing ninety-eight per cent of housing stock, moving beyond the current policy focus on only new residential dwellings.”
Ms Kakas added though that there was “no robust national tool or framework currently available to support such a mechanism.”
“In the absence of a national pathway forward, both state and local governments are currently filling the void with programs that serve to further fragment the sector.”