Student flats lie empty


‘It’s getting harder for landlords with the older properties to compete’

Owners of some older properties in North Dunedin once sought-after as student accommodation are struggling to let them, property managers and investors say.
Metro Property Management chief executive Steven Sharp said there had been an increase in building in the north end of Dunedin and the increase in available new stock meant student expectations of flats had changed.
‘‘It’s getting harder for landlords with the older properties to compete with some of the newer stuff being built now in the north end.
‘‘The newer stuff is better quality and the stuff that’s not up to scratch is obviously taking longer to rent because no tenants are stupid. They look at each property and go ‘well what do I get for my money?’.’’
Otago Property Investors Association president Rhonda Schlaadt said she knew of some landlords who had been unable to let properties in the area for the whole of this year.
Some building work was going on in the area, but this was ‘‘no more than normal’’, Ms Schlaadt said.
Although more properties were coming on line, owners of older properties could still let their flats if they were prepared to meet the market by keeping those places well maintained and up-to-date with modern features, she said.
‘‘There are some more properties available, but I don’t think it’s out of kilter to the point where you would say this is going to be a major problem.
‘‘As long as the landlords are aware of what’s happening in the marketplace [and] are prepared to meet the market and keep their properties up to scratch, there’s always going to be a market for them.’’
Click Property Management managing director Andrea Elliott said some students did not want to live north of the botanic garden because it was considered too far to walk to campus.
Ms Schlaadt agreed, saying properties in the campus inner areas were now more soughtafter by students.
‘‘Hyde St, Castle St, Howe St, those real inner areas south of the the botanic garden, south of George St, between the university and George St — that sort of area,’’ Ms Schlaadt said.
Otago University Students’ Association president Laura Harris said she had also heard of flats in North Dunedin areas ‘‘being dormant for a certain amount of time into the year’’.
There was no rush for students to sign up for flats for next year given the availability of potential accommodation, she said.
‘‘There are more than enough houses for students to start being a little bit picky about the types of houses that they’re choosing.’’
She also recommended students be careful when selecting prospective flatmates whom they might not know particularly well.
‘‘You get people signing on to flats far too soon, especially when they lock in who their flatmates are going to be very early in the year; oftentimes, if they are first years, with people they’ve only just met.
‘‘Relationships can change and that can cause issues if they’re making commitments quite far out of what flat they want to live in.’’