RESEARCH: Cruel Summers Renters Research findings 2024

Better Renting worked with over 100 renters across Australia from December 2023 through February 2024, to track temperature and humidity in their rental homes, whilst also collecting lived-experiences through surveys and interviews.

Each state/ territory was represented and some of the results are shocking.


Table: Shows that houses at times have little effect at protecting people from outdoor temperatures, especially in QLD


The 2023/24 summer turned out to be the third hottest summer on record. Many renters were struggling with the cost of living, following record increases in rents and the costs of other basic essentials. A low vacancy rate meant that renters who had moved were more likely to accept substandard accommodation; existing renters were less able to advocate for their rights or seek better options.

These experiences are documented in the report Cruel Summers, available for download here.


What did the Quantitative temperature data say?

Each participant was sent a smart thermometer (Govee H507 smart thermo-hygrometer) to record temperature and humidity data at 1 min intervals in the home. The results were entered into this great live graph, and showed a state-by-state analysis. To read an overview of the findings for each state, see below at the end of this news item.


What did the Qualitative data (people’s stories) say?

A renters’ experience of these temperatures would vary depending on their circumstances. Renters’ ability to cope with the heat varied greatly depending on their access to resources, in particular, their quality of housing and whether or not they faced high cost of living pressures.

Renters experienced massive flow-on effects on other areas of their life based on these relatively simple variables. Renters living in good quality housing had better capacity to deal with the heat. Good insulation and housing standards helped to prevent their homes from heating up too much in the first place. Access to cooling devices was extremely useful, but only to renters who could afford the utility costs of using them.

Conversely, renters with high cost of living pressures tended to have lower access to these types of resources. They were much more likely to be trapped in hot homes without means to cool down or escape. In at least once instance, these factors combined to create a medical emergency.


Findings Overview:

New South Wales

  • Renters had median indoor temperatures of 25.2°C, meaning that temperatures were above this level 50% of the time.
  • NSW also had the worst humidity, with renters spending half their time above 65% humidity, and the highest maximum humidity — 95% — recorded in this state.
  • Homes were above 25°C over 12 hours a day on average, with almost 1 hour a day above 30°C. Indoor temperatures exceeded outdoor temperatures over 40% of the time: when this happened, indoor temperatures averaged 28°C.


  • Victoria experienced a summer that was warmer than long-term averages, but cooler than other recent summers. The data reflects this, showing conditions that — while still a problem — are better than those recorded elsewhere. The average median temperature was 23°C, with rental homes surpassing 25°C almost 5 hours a day.

Western Australia

  • Western Australia faced what is predicted to be its hottest summer on record: it was the second-hottest state in the dataset. Rental homes averaged 16 hours a day above 25°C, with an average median temperature of 26.3°C. Almost 3 hours a day rental homes were above 30°C indoors. Unlike other areas, WA was hotter overnight, with a median temperature of 26.8°C from 10pm to 6am. When it was hotter in than out, WA rental homes performed worst, being on average 4°C hotter inside than out.

South Australia

  • In South Australia, renters spent around 6 hours a day with indoor temperatures above 25°C, including overnight, where median temperatures were hotter than during the day.
  • The single highest maximum temperature, 45.3°C, was also recorded in SA. This is during a summer that was relatively cool compared to recent and anticipated future summers.


  • Queensland was the hottest state in the analysis. Rental homes averaged 50% of the time above 28.2°C, also experiencing high average humidity (64.4%). Daily, about 6 hours were above 30°C, and night-time temperatures exceeded 25°C for 86% of the time. Indoor temperatures exceeded outdoor temperatures over 60% of the time, during these times it was 3.9°C hotter indoors.

Northern Territory

  • The wet season in the Northern Territory brought indoor conditions that were virtually unbearable. Only 2 hours a day on average were less than 25°C, with over 8 hours a day cracking 30°C indoors. This is also true for overnight conditions, where median temperatures were 29.3°C from 10pm to 6am.

ACT & Tasmania

  • Conditions in the ACT and Tasmania were milder. ACT had median temperatures averaging 23.3°C, and rental homes cracked 25°C for about 4 hours a day. Tasmania was below 25°C for 94% of the time, with a benign median temperature of 21.7°C.


This citizen science project and both the data it collected is hugely important. It shows, in many cases, rental housing is failing to perform one of its most basic functions: providing shelter form the elements, and with a lack of consistent laws for performance standards, renters are left without power to advocate for better housing when required.

Bobbie and Owen from Healthabitat were a part of this project, in Alice Springs, NT.