Rents high on OUSA agenda in election year

James Heath
James Heath
High rents in Dunedin must be a topic of discussion as the city heads into a local body election year, the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) says.

OUSA president James Heath said  any rises in rental prices, "particularly given the daily financial challenges students face", were worrying.

"Tenancy issues are some of the most common raised by students, including rent prices, and must be a topic of discussion as we head into a local body election year and begin to discuss the future of our city."

The city recorded average weekly rents of $400 or more for three months running last year, the first time rental prices had hit such a sustained high in 26 years.

Rents are traditionally high in the city in the October to December period, as students sign up to leases for the following year, sometimes on five, six or seven-bedroom flats.

However, average weekly rents during the same period in 2016 were about $25 less, and rents five years ago in the city were about $50 less.

The students’ association has previously mentioned prioritising getting more involved in local body politics in 2019, and also in possibly investing in property.

A student referendum found  68% of students wanted OUSA to set up a subsidiary company to invest in flats in North Dunedin. The OUSA has said the referendum gives rise to a "moral obligation" to look into the possibilities, rather than being legally binding. The association announced it had purchased student bar Starter’s Bar late last year, and will be doing it up in February.

OUSA could not be contacted for further comment at the weekend.

Dunedin City Council local body elections will be held on October 12 this year. elena.mcphee@odt.co.nz

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