The increasing cost of private rental accommodation in Dunedin has seen the demand for social housing rise during the past six months, with Housing New Zealand housing one family a day during that time. Photo by Dan Hutchinson
Unaffordable rental property in Dunedin is driving
lower-income families into social housing, with one property
manager saying the situation could get worse if rental
properties are required to lift their standards.
In the past six months, Housing New Zealand has seen demand
increase dramatically, with the agency housing about one
family a day in Dunedin.
Increased demand has seen the waiting list of families
waiting for one of Dunedin's 1451 state houses increase to
Housing New Zealand regional manager Symon Leggett said a
range of factors was considered when deciding whether someone
was eligible for state housing, including income, ability to
afford low-cost private accommodation, their existing
accommodation and their particular needs.
Housing New Zealand aimed to allocate a home to a tenant
within 45 to 75 days, he said.
Housing New Zealand tenants pay rent based on what they can
afford, not market prices.
Anglican Family Support director Nicola Taylor said rising
rents was the main reason low-income earners and
beneficiaries needed Housing New Zealand support.
Anglican Family Support worked with Housing New Zealand to
find accommodation for people.
The amount of money people needed just to get in the front
door of a private rental was out of reach for many families,
''The amount of money needed upfront for bond and two or
three weeks' rent can't be covered by someone on a low income
or benefit,'' she said.
Quality housing that was affordable was difficult to find,
and the quality of Housing New Zealand homes had improved
greatly during the past four years, she said.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Otago spokeswoman Liz
Nidd said more landlords had been improving their properties,
which meant rental costs increased.
One of the best ways for investors to make more money was to
improve a property and increase its price, which meant some
people on low incomes were driven out of the market.
''At the end of the day, investors are there to make money
and if they can get a better price for their property they
will,'' Ms Nidd said.
Any requirement for property owners to meet certain
requirements, such as the warrant of fitness proposal put
forward by the Dunedin City Council, would increase rents,
''It goes round in circles - if you improve your property you
can charge higher prices and because of the quality you will
get renters seeking out your property.
''That's just how the market works.''
Council events and community development manager Rebecca
Williams said any policy on rental standards would take into
account any price increases it might cause.
''It's only very early days in the project and we are keenly
aware of what the policy may do to the market and what
pressure that can put on people,'' she said.