Student housing hard to find

By Josephine Edmonds

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Dan Lusby at Tauranga Rentals said they had a lot of requests from students looking for accommodation.
Dan Lusby at Tauranga Rentals said they had a lot of requests from students looking for accommodation.

Some students in the Bay of Plenty are struggling to find affordable accommodation because of the increase in population and rent prices.

Full-time hairdressing student Kimberley Edlin, 26, said it took her more than six months to find the house she was currently in.

Ms Edlin, who also has children, said she was turned down for the first house she applied for because the landlord did not believe she had a steady enough income with student allowance but no job.

We also get quite a lot of applications in the second and third weeks of the first semester. These are generally students who have found accommodation that isn't very adequate.
Russell Braithwaite, Student Accommodation Tauranga

Accounting student Hannah Love-Trowell, 21, also struggled to find an affordable room and said it would be impossible to find a new rental with a group of friends.

"Rooms seem way over-priced for what they actually are," she said.

Trade Me's median asking price for a rental property was $340 in 2012, $385 in June last year and made a dramatic jump to $450 in June this year.

The maximum student allowance students could receive if they were a single applicant without children was $210.13 a week after tax.

Eligible students could also borrow up to $176.86 a week for living costs. However, the two StudyLink figures added together come to $63 short of Trade Me's median rent price.

Student accommodation near the Windermere Campus generally ranged from $150 to $165 a week but spots were in hot demand, said Loretta Crawford, marketing adviser at Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

Ms Crawford said the polytech had a total of 94 bedrooms based around the Windermere Campus, but the majority were full.

The houses on offer included those owned by the polytechnic and others that were privately owned.

Private owner Russell Braithwaite, of Student Accommodation Tauranga, said he knew students had been struggling with accommodation.

They had 36 rooms available to students but have always been in high demand. "We have very limited vacancies, I think there is one empty room."

In the five-and-a-half years they had been available, Mr Braithwaite said they had run at 99 per cent occupancy and had already started taking bookings for next year.

"We also get quite a lot of applications in the second and third weeks of the first semester. These are generally students who have found accommodation that isn't very adequate so they search for something else."

The Olivine St WSA Student Accommodation had only one of 26 rooms available.

Josh Fitzgibbon, from Behome Realty, said in the past five years four student complexes established, mostly near the Windermere Campus.

"With the growing university there has been quite an influx - between November and December it usually kicks off," he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said some landlords would not consider renting to students because they often did not have a rental history and had no fixed income.

Dan Lusby, of Tauranga Rentals, said they got a lot of requests from students looking for accommodation, including many foreigners.

Both Mr Fitzgibbon and Mr Lusby said the demand for housing created by the influx of new people to the Bay of Plenty meant people were desperate for accommodation.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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