Proposed rent rise disappoints

More than 950 tenants  could be affected by a proposed 11% rent increase under the Dunedin City...
More than 950 tenants could be affected by a proposed 11% rent increase under the Dunedin City Council’s Draft Annual Plan. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
A Dunedin City Council proposal to increase rents across its community housing by 11% could affect more than 950 residents.

The council’s Draft Annual Plan budget includes a proposed 17.5% average rates rise, along with a proposed 11% rent increase ($14-$25 per week) for its community housing tenants.

The move, which would offset the rising costs of operating the council’s community housing portfolio, could affect 966 tenants living in 940 units across Dunedin and Mosgiel.

The council would continue to subsidise community housing rents through general rates.

For those living in single (partitioned) units, rent would go up from $131 to $145 per week, while the rent for a two-bedroom unit would go up from $228 to $253 per week.

The majority of tenants are single-person households and 70% of the portfolio (733 units) are single-bed units.

The Star spoke with a community housing resident and superannuitant (who did not wish to be named), who was disappointed that his rent was likely to rise by about $40 a fortnight.

"I think it’s a shame that, as soon as the government gives us a pension increase, basically the entire amount will be taken by a council rent rise," he said.

"For me personally, this is not good, it is not easy living on a pension.

"I will be pleased when the winter energy payment starts coming through."

However, the resident was well aware that living in community housing was "a pretty good deal" with rents well below market rates. He had lived in council housing for most of the past 20 years.

"It is my understanding that Dunedin’s community housing rents are among the cheapest in the country.

"And the council are good landlords — they are quick ... [to] fix things when needed.

"These community housing units are a good option for people on fixed incomes and are in high demand — I’m grateful to have one."

The council is consulting with the public on the proposed 11% rent increase as part of the Draft 2024-25 Annual Plan process, and will decide whether or not to accept the increase as part of that process.

A spokesperson said the council had written to community housing tenants to inform them of the proposal and invite them to make a submission on the proposed change.

Extra support may be available for those experiencing hardship.

"If council votes to increase rents, many of our tenants will be eligible to either start receiving an accommodation supplement from Work and Income, or have their existing accommodation supplement increased," the spokesperson said.