Queenstown accommodation crisis may force business owner out of town

Remarkable Tortillas owner Mark Hadida has said he will need to move his business from Queenstown if the affordable ...
Che Baker/Fairfax Media

Remarkable Tortillas owner Mark Hadida has said he will need to move his business from Queenstown if the affordable accommodation crisis in the resort is not sorted.

A Queenstown business owner concerned about the affordable accommodation crisis in the resort says he will be forced to move his business out of town if the issue persists. 

Remarkable Tortillas owner Mark Hadida said he was extremely concerned with the acceleration of accommodation rental price increases in Queenstown.

"I pay my staff a decent wage, but some are being forced away from Queenstown, because they just cannot afford to live here anymore."

Hadida's business, which makes tortilla wraps that supply both restaurants and supermarkets, employs 12 staff and he wanted to expand this year, doubling the size of the business.

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However, rent increases of $100 had forced staff to leave town and put others at risk.

"They are very concerned because they just cannot find anywhere within their budget and the stress is affecting their work," he said. 

"It's all quite simple and not rocket science ... If people cannot afford to live here, then businesses have no staff, therefore it does not matter how great it is to live here or visit here, the town will slowly die.

"We need to sort this out, urgently. Building affordable houses is not going to sort this problem out. For one thing there is not enough being built. For another it will take too long to have any effect.

"At the end of the day, I'll have to move. That's the reality.

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"I want to live here. I don't want to move," he said.

One of those struggling to find a room in Queenstown was 25-year-old Lydia Collier.

"I didn't think it was going to be so hard ... I can't even find a sofa to stay on at the moment."

On Tuesday Collier went to a room viewing where 15 other people showed up.

"They were charging $180 without bills and it was disgusting.

"It's basically a competition. It's pathetic," she said.

If she was unable to find somewhere to live, with only a week and a half available at the backpackers she was staying at, she was considering taking a break from her job and going to stay with a friend in Auckland to "sit tight" until something came up.

Queenstown Accommodation Centre general manager Craig Dow said of the 530-550 houses on the books it managed, on Monday only five were available for rental and that number was expected to drop to three by the end of the week.

While seasonal workers felt the accommodation pinch in Queenstown during winter, when it was often too cold to sleep in tents, many of those who waited until November for the shortage to ease after the ski season finished also struggled, Dow said.

"It's pretty bad.

"There is no shoulder season. If there is it's short and sharp," he said.

It was believed some of those in the resort had resorted to shift-sleeping in beds, where one person sleeps in it during the day, and the other at night.

"I've no doubt (shift-sleeping) is going on with the housing shortage at breaking point," Dow said.

While shift swapping of beds was not encouraged, it was up to the owner of a property to decide if they would allow it.

It was also hard to monitor if a lessee started to rent out their bed while they were at work, Dow said.

 - Stuff

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