A shortage of builders and a rush to upgrade properties has the Otago Property Investors Association concerned some students will be homeless when the academic year begins.
The north end of Dunedin has been a hive of activity over the summer break as landlords build or upgrade properties, with many taking advantage of the break to meet upcoming legislative requirements to upgrade insulation.
However, added maintenance requirements and an increase in new builds has the association worried work might not be finished at some flats before the academic year begins.
''Just walking around and noticing roofs not on and windows not in, I worry how people are going to get things finished in time,'' association executive member Kathryn Seque said.
''I have heard landlords put out a call saying that there is a shortage of builders and labourers.''
Because of maintenance work, many landlords - including Ms Seque - had their leases begin in Orientation Week or thereabouts, rather than on January 1.
However, there had been reports some students with year-long leases had arrived to discover their prospective new home was a building site.
''Unfortunately there may be some cowboy landlords out there who this is happening with, but the vast majority of landlords down here who know what they are doing would not be charging students rent while renovations or new builds are going on,'' Ms Seque said.
OUSA Student Support manager Sage Burke said despite it being early in the year, students had been coming in to express concerns about work at their flats.
''I expect that number will keep growing.
''Summer School started this week, and some students like to come back early.
''Most won't be back for a couple of weeks though, and we plan on being pretty busy then.''
Student Support was busier than normal for the start of January, and Mr Burke expected that trend to continue with the amount of maintenance being done.
If students were unable to live in their flat and their tenancy had already begun, they might be entitled to compensation.
Students with concerns or queries should contact Student Support, he said.
Ms Seque said students were now choosier when it came to the quality of their housing, which had forced many landlords - especially out-of-town landlords - to update their flats.
That had prompted more landlords than normal to embark on major maintenance work this summer.
''A lot of landlords here booked builders and insulators well in advance because of the new laws coming in, and a lot of landlords are also doing the work themselves to ensure it is done on time and they don't have to rely on trades.''
-Otago Daily Times