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Masters Student

Letisha is completing her Masters thesis offsite and can be contacted via email.

Letisha Nicholas (160)Letisha grew up in the east coast of Northland, where she gained an appreciation for the natural surroundings. She took this curiosity with her into her Undergraduate degree in Zoology at Otago Uni. However, it was the experience in her cold Dunedin student flat that led her to question how to improve damp and mouldy housing and high power bills in both Dunedin and NZ.

Her relevant background in housing began in 2012 when she and five friends took on the challenge of fixing up an old Dunedin rental property, alongside their landlord (and property manager), to make it warmer and more energy efficient. The Chateau was a two-year project in which the students provided labour and sought subsidies and in return the landlord installed a wood pellet burner heating source, ceiling and floor insulation, extensive draft proofing and 2kw solar panels.

As they knew this was only one house among many in need of improvement in these areas, it led to the creation of Rate my Flat. Rate my Flat is a rental rating website that helps prospective tenants gain greater insight on aspects such as heating before moving in to a flat. For landlords it is a space where they can highlight the good work they have done to their rental property and provide feedback as well. Understanding the rental heating situation through running a startup/social enterprise provided valuable insights for future work in the rental housing improvement space. This project led Letisha to start her Masters of Science in Geography at the Centre for Sustainability.


Letisha's Masters research focuses on understanding landlords energy cultures and how this behaviour influences tenants energy cultures and the overall energy performance of rental housing in New Zealand. Poorly performing rental housing is an issue across a number of areas including; public health and policy, resource efficiency and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to limit impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
This Masters research is funded by Energy Cultures 2 research project which is funded by Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

Letisha's research Understanding how New Zealand landlords make decisions about energy performance of private rental housing.

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