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Thread: Read this before you rent or buy in NZ

  1. #1
    mountainlake is offline Junior Member
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    Default Read this before you rent or buy in NZ

    We moved to Auckland in January. We knew that homes here are poorly insulated and don't have central heat. As a result, we rented a cedar home because it was supposed to retain heat well. Well, it doesn't because it has no underfloor insulation, and it has an open foundation. Plus the garage door does not shut fully, so the cold air from the garage comes into the house because the walls do not fully go up the ceiling!

    We are spending $500/month to heat the house, and we are still freezing. The home we rented has electrical problems, so we can only heat one bedroom at a time. Therefore we have had to move our toddler's bed into our bedroom (causing all sorts of problems with her wanting to sleep with us, etc.). When we wake up in the morning, it is frigid in the living room. My poor daughter shivers and her lips turn blue!

    There are no electrical outlets in the bathrooms, and they don't have fans. So we have to leave the windows open all the time to try to dry them out. Black mold is developing, and our landlord has told us "tough luck." Our daughter has developed respiratory problems and we think it may be due to the mold!


    So my advice is, do not rent a home unless it has some sort of heating system (not just a fireplace) - something like a heat pump, underfloor heating, or some time of house-wide heat. Make sure the bathrooms have fans or outlets so you can put heaters in there to dry them out. Try to get a house on top of a hill - not for the view, but because it will be much warmer.

    We are trying to get out of our lease, but we have a nasty landlord. We are going to move into an apartment because we just can't take all of these terrible problems related to the cold, damp weather.

    Oh, and people will say "Auckland isn't cold." Well, it's not really if you compare it to Washington DC, which has a lot of snow, etc. But you never get warm in Auckland. The only place you really feel warm is your vehicle. My office is cold, my home is cold, I'm cold all the time. It's far far worse than DC or even my few weeks in Wisconsin during the winter!

    This has completely destroyed our experience in NZ so far. I know that it will get much, much better once winter ends and we will not make the same mistake twice when we rent next time.

    If I can save just one person from this type of miserable, expensive, unhealthy experience, then it's worth posting!

  2. #2
    kiaora!! is offline Senior Member
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    I have to agree with you!

    My advice is the same and never look for a house to rent/buy in summer as it will always be warm! the houses here are drafty, cold and moldy..
    definitely look for a house with heat pump/ underfloor heating etc it really does make winter even more miserable being freezing cold all the time!
    And yes it s not cold here, but if your house is colder than outdoors in the sun then it s still horrible!!!!
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  3. #3
    francis1962 is offline Member
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    HI GUYS

    Great post & exactly the sort of info that we need before moving

    It does of course make it a bit more difficult to source somewhere decent before you arrive

    Question on bad landlord Was the rental arranged through an agency? If so have they been of no help?

    We were looking to arrange a 12 month lease before coming out. That's that plan aborted

    Is there a energy efficency report supplied with rental proprties as has been introduced in UK?

    Francis

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by francis1962 View Post
    We were looking to arrange a 12 month lease before coming out. That's that plan aborted
    Yes I think I, too, would seriously reconsider if I was thinking about leasing a property unseen. There's been some real horror stories about people leasing before they have seen a place which looked great on the agent's website. You just can't tell by looking at pictures how damp a place smells or how cold it will be in winter and the photos are usually engineered to making a house look good and to hide 'imperfections'.

    Also, it could happen that, even though you managed to get a good house that you liked, you could find yourself in an area you didn't like or one that is inconvenient for schools or work. Because it can be difficult to worm your way out of a rental contract, it is a good idea to research some temporary accommodation while you look at more permanent places yourself.
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  5. #5
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    I have to echo everything here! I lived in the Arctic for a bit, and was never as cold there as I have been here in the Waikato! While you will hear it said many times, "It's not that cold, here." it is a DAMP cold and it literally seeps into your bones, whether you are young or old. I don't care how many layers of clothes you put on. I've lived three different places here. The first was a nice little three bedroom house, with a flatmate who left windows open years round (so the cats could come and go!). There was no heat, except for an ancient electric heater in the lounge that barely made a difference. Then we lived out in the country - at least we had a wood stove there, and that helped thaw me out - as long as my partner or I built a fire, but then the crazy flatmate would open the windows, so I was frozen again. Now we live with a lovely flatmate (who is originally from Australia) who has gas heat in the house. She doesn't like the cold, nor does she like the damp and mold growing in the house, so we keep it comfortable. We turn off the heat at night, and you can literally see your breath in the house, in the morning, when it's really cold outside! She wipes down the windows, which have condensation on them, every morning. We also have electric blankets on the beds. My partner may be getting a farm job near Whanagarei, and the house up there has a fireplace, but I'm anticipating freezing again, even in the "winterless north".

    Always, always look at a place before signing anything.

    And, isn't there some sort of renter's tribunal where you can take disputes for resolution? (There was talk of this when we lived in the first house. It was sold, and the new owner said she wanted to live in the house, so we were all planning on moving. Then, one day, someone showed up to take pictures of the interior so it could be rented out. She was actually going to boot all of us out and rent it out for more money than she was already getting from us! We decided it wasn't worth the hassle as we had already all made plans to go elsewhere.)

    I seriously doubt there are many dwellings with energy effiency reports in New Zealand. They would have mostly negative numbers!
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  6. #6
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    I don't know whether there is anything of use in here.
    Mother Bear

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  7. #7
    kiwiguy is offline Member
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    yes you can go to Tenancy Tribunal they charge you $20 and no lawyers are allowed

    If you have a standard rental agreement eg you have not agreed at a fix term then you must give 3 weeks notice if you want to leave in writing
    and the landlord must give you 90 days notice unless he sells the property or he or his realitves want to live in it in that case its 42 days

    also there are rules around the landlords access eg he just can't come over when he wants he must give notice unless its an emergency and there are many other rules about how often the rent price can be changed

  8. #8
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    I know where you are coming from. I grew up in cheap accommodation in Dunedin and this is one of the reasons I became an architect: so I could do things better! Some of the places I have lived literally made you sick and depressed.

    My main advice for people renting places is find somewhere that gets the sun. This makes a huge difference in these poorly insulated houses we have, and we don't often have periods of a week or so without sun for too long in our climate. Winter sun can make a huge difference to the temperature even in our many single glazed uninsulated houses. Make sure you are getting sun in living area windows at an absolute minimum for the morning and midday period (from the north and east) so the house gets as much warming up as possible after a cold night.
    If the only sun you get is western, it won't help as much, and in summer the place will overheat at the hottest time of the day.

    With regard to houses on hills, watch out for the windy unsheltered sites. In the draughty construction of many houses, any warmth you create will be sucked straight out. In draughty houses, radiant heating, (wood burner, electric radiant heater) rather than heating of the air (fan or heat pump) is therefore much more effective.
    Space Heating: Convection or Radiant

    Look for curtains that are tightly woven, and hang to the floor or snugly against sills to block air movement during times when the sun isn't on the windows.

    Unfortunately this doesn't help people trying to rent a place before arriving. I guess all you can do is make sure any lease is short term.

    There was a proposal to look at making energy rating of houses compulsory for sale and maybe for leases, but the current government scrapped that.
    Last edited by People Space; 13-08-2009 at 01:32 PM.

  9. #9
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    Not all kiwi houses are cold, we have the opposite problem. We only have a single log burner for heating and only have it on about 2 maybe 3 months of the year. We get a small amount of dampness when drying clothes inside, but this only leads to a small amount of black mould round the window frames, which I got in the UK anyway. It is insulated, but up on piles with no under floor heating. I only wear slippers for a month in winter.
    In summer temperatures inside will be above 30C for at least three months of the year and it will get up to well over 40C in the shade in summer. It is an exceptionally dry heat.

    Oh and this is the south Island.

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