Students left de-flat-ed
Students are resorting to the Wellington Night Shelter and bribery as many are left without residence as the university year draws closer. Mike Leon, manager of the Wellington Night Shelter, says nearly a fifth of current residents are students—a higher proportion than in previous years. Leon also told Salient that a number of people are couchsurfing to get by and keep costs down.“It’s another form of homelessness.” VUWSA President Rory McCourt questioned how New zealand could call itself a First World country when students had to “slum it” in night shelters.“It’s time the Wellington City Council took action to lower the cost of decent housing.” Anecdotal evidence suggests landlords are capitalising on the high demand, with rents rising accordingly. Salient has found interested parties are making high offers to landlords at viewings in the hopes of securing a property. Four students shelled out $740 per week for a three bedroom flat in Te Aro, originally listed on Trade Me for $555.Trade Me property reports show Wellington’s property prices have grown at an annual rate of 1.8 per cent, a rate higher than inflation, which hovered around one per cent in 2012. In the past ten years alone, flat prices have risen 50 per cent. “Until local and central Government acts, we’ll be doing everything we can toget students into flats and through the cold Wellington winter” said McCourt.This year, VUWSA will be running a campaign for warmer, drier and more affordable flats. February is traditionally the busiest time for flat hunters, with viewings regularly attracting over 20 interested parties. One landlord Salient spoke to had all five of his properties filled within two days of listing. “I never have any trouble filling my places and this year’s been no different.”His advice to students still looking for flats is to stand out from other applicants: “We might have 50 different groups we’re meeting in a couple of days. If you’ve got an A4 page with a picture, bio, contact details and referees for each flatmate, that’s a huge help in getting us to remember you.
“If you’ve got a female flattie, that helps.”