Dunedin Becoming Auckland

Students’ standard of living appears to be on the rise with students now looking for better rental properties.

The New Zealand Residential Rental Review (NZRRR) 2013 shows that in the 12 months leading up to May this year rent prices have decreased in several Dunedin areas, depending on the number of bedrooms available.

However, according to Jake Wright of Edinburgh Realty, a number of students are looking for better rentals and are no longer happy living in cold and draughty flats. “[Students] want places that are nice and warm and probably a bit more like the family homes they have come from in the past,” Wright told Critic.

When asked if this demand for increased quality would encourage landlords to better maintain their properties, Wright remarked that government schemes designed to improve access to insulation and heating have “certainly helped” increase the quality and warmth of flats. “A lot of owners are starting to get rid of older properties that are [not] … up to scratch and they’re building new ones that are of a [much] higher standard.”

Despite this trend, iconic precincts such as Castle Street now see flats fetch weekly rent upwards of $140-$150 per room.

In terms of value for money, Wright said that for $150 a week a tenant should probably be getting a “purpose-built property” that includes additional features such as dishwashers, flat screen TVs, Internet and Wheelie Bin services.

Critic also spoke with Paul Reuben of Student Accommodation Ltd who recognised an array of “substandard” flats, commonly those with an established culture. “People will pay absolutely top dollar for a piece of wood with a name on it, irrespective … of the quality inside.“

International students have had a significant impact on the rental market as they “expect something a wee bit more modern,” and have prompted an increase in studio rooms and newer properties. According to Reuben, a drop in university enrolments has also put pressure on run-down properties, but landlords appear to be getting the message: many are paying to improve heating and insulation in their currently vacant flats in order to avoid a similar lack of interest next year.
This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2013.
Posted 3:59pm Sunday 21st July 2013 by Claudia Herron.