Housing affordability crisis continues to grow in Queenstown Lakes

The housing affordability crisis continues to grow in Queenstown Lakes, even though property values ​​drop across the rest of the country.

The average home value in Queenstown Lakes now sits at $1.7 million and rents are rising with a three-bedroom house now a minimum of $800 a week.

The Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust the waiting list has now grown to around 820 households – one in 16 of all households in the district.

Trust chief executive Julie Scott said a proliferation of homes on Airbnb was adding to the crisis.

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“Some people use their house a lot as a vacation home and there’s no way they’re renting it out on the open market, but there are others who just have their house on Airbnb 12 months a year and we would like to see these homes back on the rental market, so we would like to have incentives for people to put them in long-term rentals rather than having them like Airbnbs.

Scott was candid in his assessment of the housing market in the district.

“I think the market is letting the people of Queenstown Lakes down – absolutely.”

At $800 a week for the most basic rental homes, rents were financially crippling for many families.

“There’s not much left for the families, is there? For food, for all the other things the kids need, electricity, jobs – there isn’t much left,” Scott said.


The Queenstown Lake District has a tough housing market. (first published in September 2019)

“It’s really difficult,” says a mother forced to live apart from her son

Among the more than 800 households currently on the trust’s waiting list was Barbie Hillcoat.

She moved to New Zealand, with her son, from Argentina in 2020 to find a better life.

They lived on the West Coast, but earlier this year the teenager moved in with a family friend in Queenstown to attend high school, with his mother to join him once residency was granted in July.

Hillcoat had also since moved to Queenstown, but they lived apart as it was impossible to find a place for the two of them, she said.

“I went to every viewing. You go to see a house and there are about 20 different people looking at the same house, then you find the same group of people on the next visit. It’s horrible.”


Ten of Queenstown’s best kept secrets. (Video first published on October 1, 2021)

His income was not even enough to cover the available rents.

Recently, she had seen a basic three-bedroom house listed at $1,200 a week.

She would consider leaving Queenstown to find something more affordable, but would probably take a pay cut to do so and her son was now settled in Queenstown.

After the shock of moving halfway around the world, she didn’t want to have to move him again.

But the housing situation meant that for months she had been unable to be there for him as any mother would wish.

“It’s really tough,” Hillcoat said.

“It’s frustrating and it makes me really sad. As my son had a fever and I couldn’t be with him because I live in another house. Those kinds of things that a normal mother can do – I can’t.

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Glyn Lewers says short-term housing is contributing to the district's housing problems.

Debbie Jamieson / Stuff

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Glyn Lewers says short-term housing is contributing to the district’s housing problems.

Lack of housing affordability “structural problem”

Glyn Lewers, Mayor of Queenstown Lakes agreed that the number of potential rentals listed as Airbnb and short-term rentals was an issue.

He believed that the government should do more to regulate short-term rental.

Airbnb would not provide data on the number of houses listed on its site.

But AirDNA data showed there were around 1,500 entire homes currently available for short-term rental in Queenstown Lakes and with an average daily rate of $420, it was easy to see why landlords were opting for Airbnb over long-term rental contracts.

Lewers said housing affordability in the district was the worst in the country, with homes costing about 17 times the median wage.

“There’s a really good argument that it’s not sustainable, considering three to five times is what’s considered affordable. This is a structural issue that the government needs to address and we are in discussion with them to find something we can do together,” he said.

The Salvation Army’s Community Ministries director in Queenstown, Andrew Wilson, said outdated government grants were putting financial pressure on families.

Hundreds of people were missing out on hundreds of dollars of housing supplement entitlements because the boundaries that determined entitlement levels had not been updated to reflect current residential areas.

Queenstown is a great place to live.


Queenstown is a great place to live.

One family, who lived in a backpacker, had to take funding cuts to get a house, Wilson said.

“They basically lived in a backpackers. They found a house that came on the market for essentially the same price – it was $20 or $30 more a week for them. But they were caught off guard because it was in that four-seater neighborhood, so they completely lost their extra housing.

A spokesman for Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said the government was looking at the housing supplement as part of a wider work review for families.

This review will not be completed until next year.

In a statement, Airbnb New Zealand and Australia country manager Susan Wheeldon said her community is providing more accommodation choices for consumers.

“Queenstown is a destination that has historically had a high proportion of vacation rentals and it is a world-renowned tourist destination with businesses, tourism employees and short-term rental accommodation a crucial part of the landscape of the economy. visitors.

“Airbnb has a passionate community of hosts across Queenstown for whom home sharing is vital to help them cope with the rising cost of living.

“Many of our host community are everyday Kiwis looking to supplement their incomes, with a number of hosts hit hard by the pandemic and resulting border closures and growing cost pressures. of life.”

This story originally appeared on RNZ.co.nz and is republished with permission.

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