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Thread: Too cold inside house!!!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    New zealand
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    27

    Default Too cold inside house!!!

    Hi,

    We have few questions with regards to the living conditions in a house.

    We are currently renting out a place in Khandallah,wellington and all we have experienced since moving in are issues with one thing or another. The major concern is the temperature inside the house.
    We were staying Lower Hutt earlier in a not very well insulated house and though it was cold it was never this freezing cold inside the house. We were told that the current property we are residing in was insulated if not double glazed and we signed up for a fixed term agreement for one year.

    The temperature inside the house is most times less than 10c in the mornings and varies between 8c and 13c during afternoons and evenings. We are concerned about our child and our health as all of us have developed this cough which seems to be there for the last month continuously. We tried raising this with the agent(who have been as unhelpful as possible till now) and got a reply that they have never got previous complaints on it being too cold inside the house and they are certain that the house is well insulated.

    We are paying a pretty high rent for this place and are feeling cheated to have gotten such a rotten deal. Can you please advice on what can be done? We have asked for advice from Tribunal and they only said that the fixed term contract can be broken only if the conditions are adverse. To us this is adverse as we have a 3 year old coughing continuously

    Any advice on this would be appreciated.

    PS: Please let us know if this is not the forum to raise such issues and any help in directing us to the right forum would be appreciated.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    UK to USA to Waikato, NZ
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    1,380

    Default

    Wow, that is cold!

    Try a dehumidifier in kids room, maybe panel heaters for bedrooms and we ended up using oil heaters in our old, cold rental we used to live in. The dehumidifier did work in reducing condensation. The electric bill was high but worth it. Also that cling film stuff over windows(made esp for windows). I would go to your GP and see if you can get a letter concerning child's health, cough etc. and then try and break your lease. The WHO advises 18 c degrees as minimum temperature.

    We finally built and insulated, double glazed, centrally heated house as we could not stand the cold. What type of heating is there? See if you get the landlord to fit a heat pump?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    35,838

    Default

    Sympathies.

    Here's a quote from an old post that might help to cope with things while you're trying to get action from other people to put this situation right. http://www.enz.org/forum/showthread....674#post429674

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Blenheim
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    1,544

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hagabel View Post
    Wow, that is cold!

    Try a dehumidifier in kids room, maybe panel heaters for bedrooms and we ended up using oil heaters in our old, cold rental we used to live in. The dehumidifier did work in reducing condensation. The electric bill was high but worth it. Also that cling film stuff over windows(made esp for windows). I would go to your GP and see if you can get a letter concerning child's health, cough etc. and then try and break your lease. The WHO advises 18 c degrees as minimum temperature.

    We finally built and insulated, double glazed, centrally heated house as we could not stand the cold. What type of heating is there? See if you get the landlord to fit a heat pump?
    As much as I sympathise with the OP, and as much as I agree with you about the minimum temperature, there are plenty of houses in New Zealand which won't fit those requirements, so I don't really think this will be regarded as a reason to break a contract.

    I would go for the dehumidifying/ heating option, to get the house as warm as possible, and if there is no heating installed at all, agree with you on trying to get a heat pump fixed.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Scotland to Wellington
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    1,454

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    Do you actually have any heating? If you don't have heating on, then yes, you can expect the house to be cold, particularly in mid-winter.
    Hope you get it sorted soon.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    NZ (Auckland; via Canada)
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    1,321

    Default

    That is c-c-c-cold!

    Another thing that helps a lot are electric blankets, the kind that go on your mattress under your sheets. Even on its lowest setting it makes it much more comfortable for sleeping. Shop around, as usually somebody has them on sale--be sure to get ones with adjustable temperatures. For our (queen) bed we have 2 controls, since my husband is a polar bear and I'm always freezing.

    Oil heaters work better than fan heaters, but they take a bit longer to get working. Insulated curtains will help keep heat in as well.

    If your doctor is willing to write a letter stating your child has a particular condition that is exacerbated by the temperature in your house, you might have cause to complain about the impact. But build standards here are shocking. Inexcusably so.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Chch, NZ
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    I'm afraid there's no point complaining to the tribunal or to the landlord. If your place happened to be the only place in the whole neighborhood that was so cold, then you may have an issue that the house is unlivable. But the fact being, older houses in NZ are generally cold and it's been well documented through media sources and the NZ Gov't keeps sending this message out.

    I'm confident, such houses in NZ would see $1000/month winter heating bills in 10 - 20 years time. This should encourage home owners to increase the comfort of their homes (landlords are most likely excluded).

  8. #8
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    Feb 2009
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    Auckland
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    Reminds me of our experience when we moved to NZ. The first 2 months were really difficult adjusting to the cold weather as we were too comfortable with double/triple glazed houses in UK which sounded like luxury here. Unfortunately we too were in a 12 month contract and had no other choice. On the plus side the house had ample ventilation so OH used to keep the windows open to avoid condensation & humidity but that meant that the house was so cold , just the thought of it sends shivers to me. Anyways, it was traumatizing experience for us. We started off with oil heaters, wearing socks (its important to keep your feet warm, same for the baby), then bought electric blankets and slowly invested in dehumidifier.

    That one house for 12 months taught us a lot and since then we have never made any such a mistake. Dangers aside, we have since then opted for brick & tile house - chances of dying is cold seems more than getting buried under the rubble

    p.s. I agree with all above posts.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    New Zealand
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    13

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    Terrible situation - especially with a young child. I agree with all of the above. We own a house that (unusually for NZ I believe) has Fahro heaters. They look a little bit like a radiator but plug into the electrical socket. They are good at heating large spaces. Don't know how much they cost to buy and they are quite expensive to run but they have a inbuild timer so you can set them to come on an hour before you get up and to work up to a set temperature. Really handy with two young kids in the house. I found heat pumps frustrating. They heat the space while they are on but it is instantly cold when you turn them off again! Would it be worth asking if your landlord would let you install Fahro heaters to take with you? They are hung on wall but only 4 small holes. An HRV really helped in our house too - plus we have a wood burner. Things to bear in mind in next rental? Until then - oil heaters and electric blankets. Try Briscoes for specials.

    On reflection, I want to add that I own a rental property in Auckland, a 1930s weatherboard house that initially had no insulation, heaters or curtains. The tenants complained that it was unbearably cold in winter (not surprisingly). Not all landlords are unreasonable. We have added insulation, thick curtains and a new woodburner. It has increased the value of the house and its rentability. Plus the tenants have now been there for 4 years. I think what I am saying is that it always pays to ask (we received a letter from the tenants via the property manager). As a landlord you want to retain good tenants. Plus I wouldn't sleep easily at night knowing that I am renting a house that is making my tenants sick, particularly with a young child.
    Last edited by che26; 22nd June 2015 at 12:20 PM. Reason: Additional thoughts!

  10. #10
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    Apr 2009
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    Waikato
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    Commiserations to the OP If it's any consolation many of us have "done time" in cold, damp rentals on arrival in NZ, so you are not alone. If you have the financial resources, swallow hard and purchase a dehumidifier to run in your child's bedroom overnight (move into other rooms in the day if someone is home to circulate it) and consider the modern fan heating options for your living space. Be ruthless about closing curtains at dusk and 'squeegying' and mopping up damp windows in the morning. The window film stuff is good but expensive and a hassle (for a rental you don't want to be in) - for bathrooms and windows that you don't mind how ho-hum it looks, consider bubble wrap (Google it). Do not dry any laundry inside or shower / cook without extraction, ditto tumble drier - only use if vented outside. Lastly, record the temps in the living space and bedroom every day - you might need it for the tribunal in the future (your landlord might try to deduct your rent for mould damage).

    I think it should be illegal to rent out houses without underfloor & ceiling insulation, carpets & curtains, and a 'healthy' heat source (i.e. NOT unflued gas heating); however, those things aren't even guaranteed in state housing in NZ. As far as the housing minister, Nick Smith, is concerned, kids dying of respiratory illness due to substandard housing is "nothing new" in NZ, so I wouldn't be expecting any radical changes of legislation to protect NZ's most vulnerable families in this regard anytime soon ...

    Quote Originally Posted by che26 View Post
    On reflection, I want to add that I own a rental property in Auckland, a 1930s weatherboard house that initially had no insulation, heaters or curtains. The tenants complained that it was unbearably cold in winter (not surprisingly). Not all landlords are unreasonable. We have added insulation, thick curtains and a new woodburner. It has increased the value of the house and its rentability. Plus the tenants have now been there for 4 years. I think what I am saying is that it always pays to ask (we received a letter from the tenants via the property manager). As a landlord you want to retain good tenants. Plus I wouldn't sleep easily at night knowing that I am renting a house that is making my tenants sick, particularly with a young child.
    So you rented it out without insulation, heating or curtains and only did something about it after the tenants complained? I cannot help but to note that you write about improved house value, rental income, and retaining 'good' tenants before mentioning the health or your tenants!

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