Posts by Lucy Telfar Barnard

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  • Hard News: Going solar?, in reply to linger,

    where was that electricity actually coming from?

    Same place as the rest of it, the wire from the street. It just came off the wire before the wire got to the meter, not after.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?,

    Oh, yes, good point Simon. I remember going to a presentation from a Dunedin scholar in Bob Lloyd's team, who annoyed a number of pro-solar audience members by pointing out that hot water heat pumps were a Good Thing and saved more than solar because they saved money all year round, including in winter when people probably want more hot water.

    The other thing I'm also remembering from when we crunched the numbers (pre-hot water heat pumps) was that a solar hot water system made sense if you needed a new hot water cylinder anyway, but didn't otherwise. But as noted, that was 10 years ago.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Going solar?,

    Ooh. How come?

    Possibly because the flat panel systems haven’t had the best longevity in the New Zealand sun (http://rustypanels.blogspot.co.nz/). Though I’ve heard the vacuum tubes are better anyway, as they make better use of the sun over the full course of the day.

    We’ve had a flat panel system for about 10 years (and yes, we have a fair bit of whiteneing as per the rustypanels problem, though it still seems to perform OK), installed when there was effectively a 2-year interest-free loan available.

    When you’re doing your sums, don’t forget to factor in the maintenance. Our pressure valve seems to need replacing regularly, which isn’t cheap and has probably taken a fair chunk out of the savings.

    Unfortunately we can’t tell how much money we are saving. We had to rewire not long after it was installed, and discovered from the electrician that at some point in their 50-year tenure the previous occupants (who’d raised nine children there) had managed to wire the hot water to bypass the meter, so our previous year’s bills didn’t include hot water to compare with.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The problem of “horror tenants”…, in reply to Lilith __,

    The difference with a landlord providing an unsafe house is that it’s an indirect harm, or risk of harm, to the tenant. We need tenancy law to protect tenants against this.

    I entirely agree. In this particular case, though, Peter McLeod’s actions were a breach of tenancy law as well, as the RTA requires landlords to “comply with all requirements in respect of buildings, health, and safety under any enactment so far as they apply to the premises.” The law requiring the stove to have been installed by a licensed gasfitter is pretty clear, and if Lesley had known the LL had installed the stove himself, she could (in theory, bar all the caveats about actual ability to take advantage of legal protections) have taken him to the Tenancy Tribunal, got the fitting rectified and exemplary damages of up to $3000.

    So the gap in the law is in all the other areas of building maintenance that end up with tenant health being compromised because the properties available for them to rent are all rundown and cold (or at least, in easily accessible legal protections – see paperwalls.org for a description of the legal protections theoretically available, but which I think you’d have to have huge reserves of energy to actually access).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The problem of “horror tenants”…, in reply to Lilith __,

    We don’t need tenancy law to tell us “neither landlord nor tenant may hit, bind, gag, or shoot each other”, do we?

    Well, you might not think so, but...
    RTA s55 (1) Subject to subsection (2), on any application made to it under this section by the landlord, the Tribunal shall make an order terminating the tenancy if the Tribunal is satisfied that—...
    (c) the tenant has assaulted, or has threatened to assault, or has caused or permitted any person to assault, or to threaten to assault [landlords, owners, family of either, neighbours].

    The tenant's equivalent provision is a lot less specific. They get:
    s38 (2) The landlord shall not cause or permit any interference with the reasonable peace, comfort, or privacy of the tenant in the use of the premises by the tenant.
    (3) Contravention of subsection (2) in circumstances that amount to harassment of the tenant is hereby declared to be an unlawful act.

    Which the tenant could combine with s56 to get the Tribunal to end the tenancy (and seek up to $2000 in exemplary damages):
    s56 (1) On an application made to it under this section by the landlord or the tenant, the Tribunal may make an order terminating the tenancy if the Tribunal is satisfied that— ...
    (a) the other party has committed a breach of any of the provisions of the tenancy agreement (including provisions relating to the payment of rent) or of this Act; and ...
    (c) that the breach is of such a nature or of such an extent that it would be inequitable to refuse to make an order terminating the tenancy.

    Obviously tenants have a better deal here, as landlords harassed by tenants still have to give the usual 90 days notice, whereas tenants harassed by landlords can apply to give less than the usual 21 days notice. On the other hand, I find it interesting that the possibility of tenants assaulting landlords is explicitly recognised in the RTA, but the possibility of landlords assaulting tenants is not.

    As far as the "tenant action risking the health of the landlords" front goes, the most likely example I can think of would be where the tenants have run a meth lab.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The problem of “horror tenants”…, in reply to Moz,

    Actual cases of death, not that I can find in a quick google. There's another case of landlord violence against a tenant (http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/6836602/Landlord-threatened-to-kill-tenant-claims), and a few couple of cases of tenants attacking landlords (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10566650 and http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=3049176, but fortunately neither of them died.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Big Chill,

    You’re right, WH. Fisher could meet the definition of a news medium because he is “an agency” [a person] (we’ll skip over my earlier objection to agencies not being news media), “whose business consists of a news activity”, that news activity being “the gathering of news … for the purposes of dissemination to the public or any section of the public”.

    This approach neatly avoids the question of whether a book is or isn’t an article. It’s clearly dissemination, which is all it has to be.

    There could be an alternative problem, in that the Act distinguishes between news and current affairs, which must therefore be different things, and I would call the book current affairs rather than news. However, you could argue that that doesn’t matter because at the time the material for the book was gathered, the individual pieces of information gathered would count as news. As we all know (a baby learning how to crawl from a dog apparently counts as news) the bar for something to count as “news” is pretty low. And it’s the gathering of news that’s required – there’s no date specified for the dissemination.

    Where do ‘publishing’ and ‘publication’ sit in this continuum?
    (both as a verb and noun)

    That’s a good point Ian. “Publication” does appear in the Act, and by inference, it means “a magazine, book, newspaper, or other publication”. This could imply that a book is a separate thing from an article, which makes skipping having to define a book as an article all the more important.

    “Publish” as a noun doesn’t come up in any sections relevant to this case.

    I would see publications and publishing as a sub-set of dissemination.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Big Chill,

    So the Evidence Act defines a news medium as "a medium for the dissemination to the public or a section of the public of news and observations on news". But that doesn't help much, as the only reference I could find to protections for journalists or the news media was s68, which allows (some) for the protection of the identity of informants - but not protection of what they said.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Big Chill,

    But if the Crown lawyers had gone to the front door and sought third-party discovery from Fisher, wouldn't Fisher have a stronger case that it was BoRA-prohibited unreasonable search and seizure (BoRA only applies to the Crown)? Dotcom's access to Fisher's material isn't unreasonable search and seizure, because a) Dotcom is not the Crown; and b) he has (now) a right to request it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The Big Chill,

    So would it be right that the judge has only ruled that Dotcom must ask for the material, but not that Fisher must provide it? Since Fisher had no representation in court, and wasn’t party to the proceedings in any way, surely it would break some rule or other for the judge to issue any rule about what Fisher must do?

    To Kevin, thanks - I think I have done a good first year law course, but it was quite a few years ago. But I take your point: the judge can decide to ignore the contradiction if they choose - nevertheless, I would have liked to see her at least acknowledge that there was one.

    I take her ruling to mean that a news medium is "an [agency-if-a-news-medium-was-an-agency] whose business... consists of news activity." I don't like it, but I can see it's practical.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 283 posts Report Reply

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