Proposed Air Quality Bylaw and its implications for property investors

30-Oct-2014

In response to The Ministry for the Environment's National Environmental Standards, Auckland Council has developed an air quality bylaw in order to meet the incoming national standards.  Under its Proposed Air Quality Bylaw, Auckland households will be required to gradually phase out the use and installation of open fire places and pre-2005 wood burners.  

The bylaw at a quick glance 

What is being banned?

Auckland Council is introducing an air-quality bylaw to ban domestic open fires from October 2016 and pre-2005 wood burners from October 2018.  It would from May next year require the removal of all pre-2005 woodturners and the disabling of open fires prior to the sale of a house.  From October 2018 onwards the use of open fires and pre-2005 burners would be banned.  Used of coal for residential heating will also be banned from May 2015.  Information on open fires and woodturners in a house is expected to be recorded on LIM reports.  

Why?

The Ministry for the Environment requires all regional councils to meet new air-quality standards by 2016.

Can I still have an open fire and old wood burner after 2016 and 2018?

In its present form, the bylaw will ban these forms of heating.  You must stop using them or replace them.

What will I do if I have an open fireplace?

Auckland Council is proposing that it must be permanently blocked as a condition of selling the home.  Similarly, old wood burners will have to be replaced or removed before sale. 

What if you do keep using these forms of heating?

The council has no plans to penalise people.  It plans a big publicity campaign to explain the rules and provide advice about alternatives.

What are the alternatives?

Morder, less-polluting wood burners, heat pumps, gas and electric heaters. 

Will all Auckland households be affected?

No.  The bylaw only applies to those households captured by the Auckland Urban Airshed i.e. metro areas of the city and not towns or rural areas such as Pukekohe, Wellsford, and Warkworth.  

So what happens if I see a house with an indoor open fire after May next year?

To sell a home with an open fire the owner would have to disable it by:

  • permanently covering the fireplace;
  • permanently blocking the chimney; or 
  • removing the fire bricks 

Implications for property investors 

As owners of multiple properties, the Proposed Air Quality Bylaw can have significant cost implications for investors.  It could also alter RTA obligations of landlords who are renting out houses that use indoor open fires as the main heat source.  

What is APIA doing about it? 

Firstly, we are seeking a legal opinion on how the bylaw will alter landlords' RTA obligations and to what standard you will be required by the RTA to replace a disabled/banned fireplace for your tenants.  Secondly we will also be putting forward a submission on behalf of property investors/landlords clearly stating the position this body takes.  Our submission will be a balanced reflection of all the feedback we receive from our members.  If you wish to have your views included please email them through to issues@apia.org.nz.  



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