An Auckland father of five won more than $1300 compensation in the Tenancy Tribunal at Pukekohe after lack of heating resulted in him "having to use the oven 24/7 to keep the kids warm."
Hayden Thomas Huia Rehua of Waiuku brought a case against landlords Stephanie and Ian Cathcart and property managers Barfoot & Thompson over poor conditions in the 15-year-old South Auckland house.
Rehua gave evidence about sleeping in the living room with the oven on so the family could stay warm enough at night. The father was so desperate to keep his children warm that he was forced to use his oven during winter, the decision indicated.
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Many factors contributed to the house being cold.
"He raised issues with trees around the property blocking natural light, an increase in power use over winter because there was no heating and having to use the oven '24/7 to
keep kids warm'. Mr Rehua said the landlord had breached the insulation
standards," the decision said.
He rented the house from November 2018, paying $480/week but in the original tenancy agreement, the landlord's insulation statement was left blank.
The place did not have a heat pump or a ventilation system so last August, Rehua served a notice to remedy.
The Barfoot & Thompson property manager said the hedge was pretty sparse and some metres from the house. It did not overhang the house. Rehua said the owner had pruned part of the hedge that was nearly touching the gutter.
The tribunal noted how from July 1 this year, the main living room of a tenanted property must be heated by one or more qualifying heaters.
"Rehua said he requested a heater before and during the winter period and was told this was for the tenant or the owner to provide," the decision said.
The property manager accepted no heating was provided and suggested that a powerpoint was an approved form of heating. But the tribunal said that was unacceptable and there was a breach of the law.
An insulation statement was provided in June last year when Warm Fuzzies did an assessment. The property manager accepted there was close to no ceiling insulation. The house was then brought up to standard and insulation was installed.
The tribunal found the tenant and his children had been living in a house for some time that did not have adequate insulation. The landlord knew about the insulation issue from June last year.
The tenant was entitled to compensation for the discomfort he and his family had experience over the winter, it decided, awarding him $1342.86 in compensation and a $20.44 filing fee reimbursement.
A spokesperson for the business said the management teams were "actively supporting and working towards the healthier, warmer home standards. We want to see situations like this become a thing of the past."