Rotorua Daily Post health and business reporter

Rotorua's first female-only apartment block popular

Rotorua's first female-only apartment block is getting such interest developers are already looking for a site for a second one - but it has also raised some eyebrows around whether it is discriminatory.

Only women will be allowed to rent and live in the 10 single bedroom apartments in Glenholme - with the tenancy manager saying safety was a major attraction for those interested.

In response to inquiries from the Rotorua Daily Post, a Human Rights Commission spokeswoman said she was not sure if it complied with the Human Rights Act. The act states those renting properties cannot discriminate on grounds such as gender.

She said there were some exemptions to that around shared accommodation, hostels and institutions and without more details she could not say whether the complex met those.

However, Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said while he initially wondered about the reaction and was worried there might be sexism claims, the developers had done similar blocks elsewhere and had checked out the legalities.

He said the apartments were too small for children but under 3-year-olds "might be okay".

"We cannot stop a male visitor but all current applicants have no wish to see a male there, the women only is the attraction so a tenant will very soon complain if a guy moves in."

He said the apartments were still being renovated but about two dozen people had turned up to the first open home and tenants were already signed up for four apartments.

While the concept was new to Rotorua, it had been used elsewhere, he said.

"The feedback has been quite sensational."

He believed the idea would appeal to overseas students who wanted to feel safe, especially overseas nursing students. Another potential market was people who wanted to go away in the weekend, because of the added security features.

Mr Evans believed the women-only aspect, as well as the three-tier security system which included security gates, electronic keys and video security, were the big points of interest, while the thermal heating and hot water was also attractive. He said the apartments had been designed for busy, hard-working single women who wanted security and to be close to town.

The property developers had bought the "ghastly" apartment blocks and completely renovated them, he said. Mr Evans said the developers had told him to stay on the lookout for other properties they might be able to use for a second women's-only block.

He would not disclose who the developers were.

Russell Hardie Property Management director Donna Russell said she would watch the development with interest. Her initial thoughts were that it seemed discriminatory and she was interested as to how it got around the Human Rights Act.

Mrs Hardie said while her firm had a block of flats which coincidentally only had female tenants, it was not something she thought was in demand. She said it was all about getting the best tenants and that would make people feel safe.

Ray White property manager Colin Elstrob said it was not something he had heard of, and his focus was on finding the best tenant for a property.

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