Complaints that 15,000 heaters installed in Housing New Zealand properties don’t heat give the appearance of an epic blunder and show a problem with forcing private rental property owners to provide heaters, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today.

Yesterday, Radio New Zealand reported issues with the 2000-watt electric convection panel heaters that some said took too long to warm up. Tenants resorted to using either electric fan, oil-filled, or radiant heaters that they were accustomed to.

The issue surfaced during a submission period on proposals to require rental property owners to provide heaters for rental properties, install additional insulation, extractor fans for kitchens and bathrooms, under-floor polythene sheets to stop rising damp, and draught-proofing tape around windows and doors.

“There was no mention in the news item whether Housing New Zealand tested the heaters before installation”, Mr Butler said.

A test may be performed by anyone with a thermometer and may be done by closing the windows, curtains, and doors of a room and powering up the heater to raise the room temperature to 18C, which is the “healthy” standard adopted by the Government.

“Surprisingly, a 2400-watt electric fan heater costing just $30 will heat a State-house living room to the required 18C on a winter night”, Mr Butler said.

“So there should be no need to force rental property owners to install expensive heaters that may attract complaints as happened with Housing New Zealand properties”, he said.

“No evidence other than reference to a World Health Organisation standard has been provided to prove that anyone is in peril if the temperature in their environment falls below 18C”, Mr Butler said.

“Moreover, the preference by tenants for electric fan, oil-filled, or radiant heaters mentioned in the Radio NZ report shows the folly of imposing a one-heater-suits-all requirement on owners of rental property, as Housing New Zealand has already found out”, he said.

“The best way forward for the Housing Minister is to leave it to us to work out the best way to keep warm during winter. That has never been a problem up to now”, Mr Butler said.

“Most New Zealand houses haven’t changed and the climate is supposed to be warming”, he said.

“The only changes have been the ban on open fires in urban areas following the 2004 new National Standards for Air Quality, as well as meteoric increases in the price of electricity, which nearly doubled in the 10 years from 2004, he said.

The group Stop the War on Tenancies aims to empower both owners and tenants in the face of ongoing Government ineptitude with housing.

See: Housing NZ tenants complain about ineffective heaters.