More houses 'not the answer' to Queenstown rental crisis

Queenstown. Photo: Getty
Queenstown. Photo: Getty
Council boss Mike Theelen doesn’t believe simply building more houses is the answer to Queenstown’s acute rental housing crisis.

While there’s a belief, on both sides of the national political aisle, that increasing the housing stock will alleviate the pressure in the Whakatipu, Theelen’s got a different view.

Theelen references Benje Patterson’s recent report on housing, which showed based on new homes consented, and factoring population growth, there were more than 1000 new homes consented than were needed last year.

Over the past three years, there’ve been 2157 houses built over and above what population growth’s required.

Mike Theleen
Mike Theleen
Theelen: ‘‘In terms of actually getting houses into the market, there’s nothing wrong with [what’s happening], it’s just how they’re being used, and that’s a private decision-making right.

‘‘The fact we can all point to things like changes in the healthy homes legislation have driven some people out of the market is not a council thing, it’s a national government thing that private investors and individuals have chosen to respond to.’’

He says increasing housing supply may have the desired effect in other parts of the country, where the market is the area’s constituency.

‘‘Our biggest challenge is that our market has never [just] been Queenstown-Lakes.

‘‘Our market has always been Queenstown-Lakes, plus Christchurch, plus Auckland, plus Wellington, plus every person in Australia who thinks, ‘actually, that’s a good place for a holiday home or investment [property]’.

‘‘I suspect we would have to go a long way before we ever produced enough houses for that expectation to be saturated.’’

Theelen says the statistics behind the rationale of the proposed visitor levy — 34 visitors to every resident in 2019 — is further evidence of the ‘‘skewed market’’ in the district.

‘‘So … normal balancing measures that happen if you’re in Dunedin or Invercargill or Christchurch simply don’t happen here until people decide that skiing, visiting lakes, going [out] and having a good time is not a good thing to do.’’