There are just days left before certain types of air polluting fireplaces become illegal in Rotorua, but authorities can't say how many are still out there.
From January 31, people looking to heat their home with a woodfire installed before September 2005 will be out of luck.
Old wood burners and all coal and multi-fuel fires will be illegal to use as the Rotorua Air Quality Control Bylaw comes into effect.
And the punishment for any lawbreakers will not be small.
People caught using their wood or coal fire to heat their home could be served with a $750 fine, an abatement notice or even be prosecuted under the Resource Management Act.
Further to this, the courts could impose a $20,000 fine under the Rotorua Air Quality Control Bylaw 2017 if necessary.
More than 4800 people have already made the changeover, however, the Bay of Plenty Regional Council (BOPRC) confirmed there was still reluctance from others.
Some community leaders say the changeover is only exasperating the district's rental crisis and will impact struggling families.
BOPRC reported Rotorua township had the worst winter air quality in the North Island with about 228 tonnes of fine particulates discharged each year.
The biggest source of the district's urban air pollution was found to be wood and coal-burning fireplaces used for home heating.
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The Rotorua Air Quality Control Bylaw, implemented in 2010, banned certain solid fuel burners in the district but allowed for a decade-long changeover period for existing households.
Since 2008, exceedances of the safe national standards of tiny inhalable particulates recorded at the Edmund Rd air monitor station has seen a dramatic drop as a whole.
In 2008, the number of exceedances sat at 37, in 2019 it was just four.
The BOPRC underlined that although it did tell a story of improving air quality, there were a number of factors at play including temperatures.
The 2018 and 2019 figures were both some of the lowest recorded in the last 12 years, showing a noticeable drop since the bylaw was being rolled out.
The council could not provide current figures on the number of non-compliant burners that remained in the airshed, however, in September the figure was estimated to be about 2500.
Rotorua Property Investors Association president Debbie Van Den Broek said the scheme was just another expense for many landlords and some were getting to the point where the return was not worth it.
"A lot of people are saying we just can't afford it anymore."
As a property owner herself, Van Den Broek said it cost her about $5000 to replace the fire in her rental and after all other expenses, there was not much left in the pot.
Some landlords were making the decision to shut off their fires completely and ban tenants from using them rather than replacing it, she said.
She said schemes of this sort only "exasperated" the rental problem in the city.
Van Den Broek said the Bay of Plenty Regional Council had not effectively communicated the rules to property owners.
Regulatory compliance manager Stephen Mellor, however, said the rules had been in the public arena for 10 years.
Letter drops, information events and working closely with affected people were just some of the ways council had kept the community informed, he said.
Visions of a Helping Hand owner Tiny Deane said the law change would affect the lower-socio economic people of the town.
He said he and his team were regularly delivering firewood free-of-charge to struggling families as their fire was the lifeblood of their homes.
He said he did not believe many would be able to stop using their old burners, regardless of the legality, due to the "astronomical" price of electricity to use compared with other forms of heating.
He said a lot of the people used their fire to heat their home and heat their water. Some even used it to cook when needed.
The Bay of Plenty Regional Council had two schemes in place to help people afford the changeover.
One of these was the Hot Swap scheme that allowed people to swap their old wood burners for a cleaner option and pay off the cost gradually via their rates bill, with both interest-free and interest-bearing conditions.
The other was the Low Income Heating Grant that would give owner-occupiers a heavily discounted heat pump or low emission burner if they met certain criteria.
These schemes had helped almost 3000 property owners to replace burners or sourcing alternative heating and would continue after January 31.
If people were caught using their fire illegally, the first action would be to talk to them to ensure they were aware of the rules, Mellor said.
Once a wood burner was removed from the property, it could never be replaced by a wood burner again. There was no legal requirement to remove the appliances unless the property was sold.