A prominent Wellington property developer is providing emergency accommodation for students struggling in the city's rental market squeeze.
Ian Cassels has decided to take urgent action after reading a comment piece in the Herald about the difficulties of securing a flat in the capital this January and hearing other anecdotal stories of hardship.
The Wellington Company director has recently purchased a university hostel and this summer piloted a pop-up apartment idea to supply affordable accommodation outside of the academic year.
But after hearing the recent nightmare rental stories, Cassels has slashed the price of rooms and is prepared to open up further floors to the six being used in the pilot.
"It just hit us the other day that it was crazy not to make these rooms available at a zero profit basis."
The rooms will cost $20 a night for a minimum of five nights targeting students in-between flats, or waiting on their year's accommodation to open up.
It's estimated the market rate for rent in the area is about $540 a week.
"This is the pressure time of year for students so they don't really want to come to town and find out they've got nowhere to go", Cassels said.
The rooms include fully contained apartments or bedrooms which share one ensuite.
Cassels is the first to admit the move is being made slightly on the hoof and is a slow reaction.
The rooms will only be available until February 10 before the building is handed back to Victoria University to lease for the year.
"Next year we will be much better off because we will act and think about it in advance", Cassels said.
The property market seemed frantic, he said.
"Rooms are getting up to be really really expensive so something's got to change that. The pendulum has got to bounce back."
"The future of the city depends upon the number of beds in it. We accommodate a lot of office workers during the day so there's no reason why people can't be here at night time as well."
Victoria University reported this week accommodation it managed was 97 per cent full and encouraged students to get in touch if they were struggling to find a roof to put over their heads.
It has 40 catered rooms for first years and 60 apartment style rooms for second years and international students left.
Chief operating officer Mark Loveard said the university was hoping to add up to 600 new beds over the next three years by extending existing accommodation buildings.
Already 240 extra beds have been added for 2019.
"Each year gets more challenging and that's why we're responding by building new accommodation and bringing more beds on stream", Loveard said.
Wellington mayor Justin Lester advised students to try looking further afield to secure rentals this year.
"Make sure you are prepared to just look beyond perhaps your traditional CBD suburbs. You might have to look a bit further away be it Newtown or Berhampore."
"This problem won't be addressed in months, it'll take years to address it.
"Wellington City Council needs to stand up as do private landlords and I know other organisations like Victoria University are standing up and saying we need to build more student accommodation."