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A combination of factors, including declining student numbers, is making it more difficult for Dunedin landlords to fill student flats.
Real Estate Institute of New Zealand Dunedin spokeswoman and Nidd Realty managing director Liz Nidd said there were more empty student flats on the company's books than last year - and more stressed landlords hunting for tenants.
It was difficult to pinpoint why demand was lower, but probable factors included extra capacity at residential colleges, declining student numbers and more students waiting until the start of the academic year to seek flats, Mrs Nidd said.
This made it tougher for landlords with student flats.
''It is harder for those landlords, because they have got less security of the knowledge that they have got a tenancy signed up for the coming year.''
Along with the decreased demand, students also expected more from flats.
''They want to know that a place is insulated, they want to know that it's appropriately heated.
''It's generally the less presentable [flats], or the ones where the owners are hanging out for too much rent [that are not being leased].
''It's a bit like residential sales. Everything will sell, at a price.''
It was ''too early'' to say whether declining numbers at the University of Otago would result in reduced prices for rentals in the student area.
Otago University director of accommodation services James Lindsay said the trend of more students waiting for the start of the academic year to find flats appeared to be continuing this year.
Competition for places in residential colleges was up on last year, there was enough demand to fill the university's new Te Rangi Hiroa College, in the former LivingSpace hotel in Castle St, and increased capacity at other colleges.
There were slightly fewer flats on the Otago University accommodation website than at this time last year, but that was possibly due to landlords advising the university flats had been rented earlier than in previous years.