Queensland’s Solar for Rentals scheme off to a slow start

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Queensland’s $4 million Solar for Rentals trial aims to help landlords and tenants in Bundaberg, Townsville and Gladstone install solar PV systems and share in the financial benefits. The scheme hopes to provide approximately 1,000 rebates of up to $3,500 to landlords looking to switch to solar by 30 June 2020 or when the funding runs out. 

However, the prospect of the program exhausting its funds seems about as likely a political comeback from Harold Holt for the trial has not taken off, despite Queensland being the second most populous state for renters.

In a statement released over the weekend from Queensland’s Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy, the Hon Dr Anthony Lynham, the Solar for Rentals trial was revealed to have only provided 42 rebates before the end of the financial year, amounting to $143,000 of rebates in more than three months. 

Australia’s nation-wide installation of rooftop solar leads the world in per capita uptake. However, renters are largely left behind by the solar revolution with little to no power to seek solar’s benefits without landlord approval and assistance. Despite over 28% of Queenslanders living in rental housing, it is difficult to discern why the government’s scheme has not gone gangbusters.  

One significant hindrance to the uptake of solar under the program is that both property owners and tenants need to be on board, and despite the rebate, rent would need to be increased to cover the costs. Of course, if renters could afford higher rents, they wouldn’t be renting. If tenant baulking is behind the slow uptake of the rebate one has to wonder why wealthy landlords eligible for rebates would still require rent increases considering the potential offset in their power bills. 

To be eligible to apply for the Solar for Rentals trial:

  • The property must be a house, townhouse or duplex located in Bundaberg, Gladstone or Townsville.
  • The house must have its own roof space and it must be rented for less than $350 a week.
  • Landlords and tenants must also both agree to a fair increase in rent and sign a new 12 month lease agreement.

The amount of the rebate reflects the size of the system installed, with only one rebate available per rental property:

  • $2,500 for systems 3 kW to less than 4 kW
  • $3,000 for systems 4 kW to less than 5 kW
  • $3,500 for systems 5 kW or greater.