Log burner relief for Timaru tenants as onus is on landlords

Concerned Timaru tenants can relax as it is their landlord's responsiblity to update old woodburners or apply for an ...
IAIN MCGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Concerned Timaru tenants can relax as it is their landlord's responsiblity to update old woodburners or apply for an extension through Envrionment Canterbury.

The heat is on landlords to ensure tenants can continue to use old log fires in Timaru this winter.

It is the responsibility of homeowners to either upgrade an old (over 15 years) log burner, before it is used this winter, or apply for an extension to 2018 through ECan (Environment Canterbury).

The changes are needed so current emission standards can be met through cleaner forms of heating under the proposed Canterbury Air Plan.

South Canterbury Property Investors Association president Kerry Beveridge said the association members who rented out houses liked to keep ahead of any changes and as far as he knew most had already addressed the issue or would have applied for an extension.

"We like to be pro-active not re-active. I think most landlords are up to date."

Whether landlords would absorb the extra cost of low emission heating or pass it onto their tenants was an individual choice, he said.

If a log burner could not be used then a landlord had to provide alternative heating for a tenant. If they did not then the tenant could seek redress through mediation.

Home owners suffering hardship could also apply for an extension.

As landlord of state houses, in Timaru, Housing New Zealand would be scheduling the installation of alternative heating before this winter, a spokesman said.

"Housing New Zealand has a small number of Timaru properties with log burners as their primary heating source."

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He did not know if Housing NZ would be applying for any extensions.

In response to a previous story, by the Timaru Herald on the regulations, a number of people voiced their concerns.

Kelsi McCarthy commented that she had not been informed by ECan and that no one had sent her a personal letter about not being able to use her fire.

ECan air portfolio spokeswoman Katherine Trought said the focus on cleaner air had not changed from last year.

"While we do have a rule which we could enforce, if people are doing their best to make changes, we will continue to take a supportive approach."

This winter ECan heating officers would again be looking for chimneys that smoked for more than 15 minutes and would provide information to help them "fine tune their technique" to burn smoke free.

"We will be revisiting areas where smoky chimneys were spotted last winter ... where it is obvious that changes are not being made to improve the smoky chimney, we will follow up."

ECan had been working with community groups last year to provide tips on burning better, she said.

Timaru Senior Citizens Association community support co-ordinator Robyn Baldwin said ECan had been in contact a few months ago about changes but had not explained what they were.

"If people enquire, we tell them to ring ECan so they can get it straight from the horse's mouth."

With a different experience, GreyPower Timaru president Denise Fitzgerald said she thought ECan had spread their message "quite well".

"Our members are switched on there has been a lot of education. All they have to do is ask [ECan]."

Not many older people had log burners or open fires as they found it too hard to stack wood and found the ash messy, she said.

"It's really not a big issue. I think it is the middle-aged who are more affected."

 - Stuff

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