Otago Property Management managing director Sonia Thom checks on progress at a fully renovated student house in North Dunedin. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
Many landlords are doing what they can to improve the
state of Dunedin's rental housing stock. Reporter Dan
Hutchinson visits a Brook St property that illustrates some
of the strides some of the city's property investors are
An old, cold villa in North Dunedin has been turned into what
should be a warm, dry model flat for students this year.
Hilary Janninck, the owner of the Brook St house, was
originally looking for a property not needing work but ended
up with a real ''doer-upper''.
Its only redeeming feature was that it was ''solid''.
Apart from that it was ''extremely cold'' and quite gloomy,
Otago Property Management managing director Sonia Thom said
Ms Janninck had done the opposite to what many landlords
would do and reduced it from six to five bedrooms.
A window in the kitchen-lounge area was removed and replaced
with sliding doors to maximise the light and an extra shower
and toilet added.
A complete renovation has resulted in a house with
generous-size bedrooms, insulation in the ceiling and
exterior walls and in any interior walls opened up during the
Solar panels on the roof provide electricity to heat air that
is then pumped into every room to ensure regular ventilation
and warmth in the winter.
Ms Thom said many students dried laundry in their rooms,
which resulted in damp, moldy houses.
However, in the Brook St house, students could ''live like
vampires'' with their curtains closed all day if they wanted.
They could dry their clothes inside and the ventilation
system would take care of the moisture.
However, there was a need to educate students about things
like that if their flat did not have good ventilation
''Most landlords are good landlords. We need to train
students how to live in the property and vent it, dry the
washing outside and [open] windows.''
Ms Thom said her company had introduced a warrant of fitness
system for its rental properties this month but landlords
also needed to consider the type of use their property would
''How a house reacts is about how a house is used.''
In the Brook St house, not only has the issue of damp and
mould been considered but gas hot water heating had been
installed to make sure there was enough hot water for
everyone and to keep costs down.
All surfaces in the kitchen - including the walls and ceiling
- were hard surfaces that were easy to wash and smoke alarms
were wired in, rather than relying on tenants to change
If people made sure they were providing easy, healthy
accommodation for people to live in, they would have no
trouble finding tenants, Ms Thom said.
She received inquiries for the Brook St house within half an
hour of the ''for rent'' sign going up in the front yard and
tenants were signed on well before the renovation was
Other organisations are also trying to lift the quality of
housing in Dunedin, including the Dunedin City Council, which
is promoting a local Bill to Parliament on minimum housing