Best 'a beautiful mansion', worst ...

The Otago University Students' Association exposed the gulf between the best and worst student flats in Dunedin yesterday, with the top flat described as a "beautiful mansion" and that judged the worst a "turd".

OUSA awarded $200 to the tenants in the top flat, a restored mansion in Stuart St, and gave away five full-body sleeping bags to the brave occupants of that judged the worst, a said-to-be damp and cold graffiti-covered villa in London St.

Dunedin dentistry student Jamie Lockyer, one of six males living in the London St flat, said his flat "definitely" deserved to be judged the worst in Dunedin.

"It's pretty average to live in; cold, damp, pretty smelly, breezy and there's holes in the wall," Mr Lockyer said.

Asked if the appalling state of the flat was part of the reason they did not bother tidying up, he said, "Yeah, definitely. You can't polish a turd, as they say."

The six each paid $80 a week rent, he said.

Marketing student Kristin Borley, one of eight women living in the top-ranked flat, said it was difficult to "pinpoint" the best thing about their flat.

It was a toss-up between the tasteful way the villa had been decorated and the quality of the flatmates, who had all known each other since first year, Ms Borley said.

"It's a beautiful mansion, basically," she said.

The flatmates had enjoyed their living experience so much they all had rings engraved with the flat's address.

Other flats in the running for worst included one in Riego St, which had a permanent drip in the kitchen, and one in Ethel Benjamin Pl, where the landlord had converted a pantry into a cramped bedroom, which had a fitted see-through glass door opening out on to the kitchen.

Among the flats in contention for the best was one owned by Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who also happened to be judging the awards.

Out of earshot of Mr Cull, tenant Lucy Hudson (21) said it was good having the mayor as a landlord.

"He's really cool. He comes around and changes our light bulbs, because we can't reach them," Ms Hudson said.

OUSA campaigns manager Angus McDonald said it was important students realised they did not "need to sign up early, and don't need to sign up to a rubbish flat".

An award for best landlord was picked up by David Ojala, who owns a flat on Union St (west).

- vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

Poor housing standards

I can't understand how anyone in their right mind would want to live in Dunedin after I spent time living there.  It's possible to live in an immaculate studio room/apartment/house for $150AUD per week here in Brisbane.  I wouldn't live in a house in Dunedin if you paid me too. Not only that, you don't have to put up with toxic mould here.

Agree that it is shameful

Agree that it is shameful, but disagree that it is the responsibility of the varsity. The woeful state of some flats offered is a
condemnation on their landlords. In
part too, this is the attitude of the students who rent sub-standard flats. At 6 x $80, it is expensive for what it is. If such flats were left vacant the opportunity cost of the investment would see something done - and quickly.

That it hasn't improved in 47 years is
saddening - expectations today are higher everywhere (bar Dunedin), since the mid 60s, not to mention those days of endless southerlies in winter.

Worst 'flat'

Great article Vaughan. What a surprise that the best flat comprises all females, and the worst all males. Tell me, what is with (this subset of) men-of-all-ages who struggle to exist in a state above squalor without a mum/girlfriend/wife/hired-help to do... well, everything? It’s a wonder they can manage to lift a finger to feed themselves their takeaways. Okay sure, the flat itself is well below par, and I had a genuine chuckle at a comment from one of the guys that "you can't polish a turd". But come on; is there any need to out-turd said turd?

Accommodation in Dunedin

It is unfortunate the quality of accommodation in Dunedin is so poor for many  people. Other universities, and particularly Canterbury, have built modern accommodation blocks for 3rd year and graduate students on a very large scale, whereas Otago has focussed almost exclusively on the needs of first year (and sometimes 2nd year) students.
The standard of private sector accommodation in Christchurch, Hamilton and Palmerson North is also much higher than in Dunedin, and is high enough for staff to want to live near the university.
A situation where the quality of accommodation is so variable makes life difficult for newcomers and discourages people from moving to, and staying in, Dunedin.
If Dunedin doesn't want to see other cities continue to enjoy higher population growth, this situation needs to be redressed.