Owners list rentals, seek clarity

Kathryn Seque
Kathryn Seque
Airbnb properties are being converted to rentals in Dunedin in light of the Covid-19 outbreak.

In the last week there have been about 80 new rental properties listed on auction website Trade Me and the Otago Property Investors Association described that increase as ‘‘substantial’’.

Association president Kathryn Seque said while it was not a surprise to have Airbnbs turned into rentals due to the restriction of movement at this time, it was unlikely people would take up new tenancies.

‘‘But I think the rental market is going to come to standstill because ... yes people need somewhere to live but you’re not going to move in the next four weeks while we’re in lockdown.

‘‘No tenant in their right mind, you wouldn’t think, is going to give their landlord notice to leave and go look for another property anyway,’’ Ms Seque said.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand regional commentator Liz Nidd warned those converting Airbnbs to rentals the amount of money they brought in would not be the same.

‘‘I just hope the owners of them are prepared to accept a realistic market rental, which is not likely to be close to what they were getting for it as an Airbnb.

She said property owners would need to ask themselves whether it was ‘‘better to have something than a whole lot of nothing’’.

The fact that Airbnbs were furnished would also pose a difficulty because tenants usually had their own furniture when they moved in, Mrs Nidd said.

She added the rental market was in dire need of more stock and welcomed the incoming Airbnbs.

Ms Seque echoed that sentiment.

‘‘We’ve got a shortage of rentals across New Zealand. So it probably is a good move in this point in time to have more of those rentals on the market.

‘‘The more people we can have in stable housing ... the better.’’

Ms Seque, who is a landlord herself, hoped other landlords would work out any issues with tenants to ensure the best result for all parties.

She said she had a tenant at the moment who worked in hospitality and was unsure if they were going to be able to pay rent.

‘‘We are going to have a Skype sit down with the tenant and go through the options.

‘‘I know there are some landlords that do need the rent coming in but we hope the banks are going to come to the party with those mortgage breaks so if they need to the rent can be reduced during this time.''

The freeze on rent increases was ‘‘great'', she said.

‘‘Should have happened six weeks ago.

‘‘Any landlord that’s even considering putting their rent up at a time like this in New Zealand, shouldn’t be a landlord.''

She said it was not clear what landlords could do if they needed to get into rental properties to fix or replace appliances or parts of the property.

‘‘If a fridge breaks down in one of my tenancies can I go and replace it?

‘‘I would consider landlords as part of an essential service when it comes to making sure properties are liveable.

‘‘If there’s any water leaks ... or anything like that are we able to enter the properties to sort them out or do they want us to still stay away?”

She said she had bought one of every key appliance to hold spare and ready to be used if a tenant needed it in any of her properties.

‘‘Some guidelines about rental property contact with tenants would be greatly appreciated during this time.’’


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