Atawhai resident Lance Langdon watches his rented home get insulated by Absolute Energy’s Craig Hibbs. With them is Nelson MP Nick Smith and Canterbury Community Trust’s Bill Dahlberg. Photo: Andrew Board.

Landlords chip in for warmer homes

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Sixty-four year old Lance Langdon didn’t think the Atawhai home he rents needed insulating, but with a referral from the health board and support from his landlord, his home was one of the first made warmer thanks to a new local initiative.

Lance lives in the home with his wife, 63, and mother-in-law who is 87. All have breathing problems and have spent time in hospital this year. He knew his home was insulated so didn’t think it needed any more work, but after being referred by his doctor his insulation was tested and shown to be in poor condition.

Enter the Warmer Healthier Homes project.

Around 300 Nelson homes will be insulated over the next two years via the Warmer Healthier Homes project, funded by government agency EECA and the Canterbury Community Trust. The project was announced in August and is targeting rental properties.

Housing minister Nick Smith says the government’s healthier homes project that was launched in 2009 saw 250,000 homes get insulated, 3600 of those in Nelson. But only 100 of those Nelson homes were rental properties.

He says this new scheme with the local partners is unique and it will have a big impact on the health of Nelsonians. “The government’s objective is to try and reduce power bills, ensure people are healthier and there is an environmental benefit in lower levels of energy use.”

Bill Dalhberg, of the Canterbury Community Trust, says the problem with other schemes has been figuring out what should be paid for by the landlord and what should be funded, but this group is focused on getting homes warmer, no matter how they do it.

He says the scheme – managed by the Nelson Tasman Housing Trust, supported by Absolute Energy, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board and the Primary Health Organisation – is already working with four rental property management companies and they are talking to many more.

In Lance’s case, his Auckland-based landlord was happy to support the scheme by putting $500 towards the job, which is worth about $3000.

Bill says it’s nice for landlords to have “skin in the game” but it wasn’t compulsory. “If landlords do put money in it means we’ll be able to help another person with health concerns, because the money will just go back into the fund.”

Nick says EECA has set aside enough funding to insulate another 30,000 homes nationwide for those that are occupied by tenants. “Immediate programme is to push hard to try and get landlords on side.”