Rental increase caps, longer leases; Queenstown house crisis plan outlined by working group

The Queenstown Community Affordable Housing Work Group have released their ideas to deal with the resort's affordable ...
Debbie Jamieson

The Queenstown Community Affordable Housing Work Group have released their ideas to deal with the resort's affordable housing crisis.

Capping rental increases is an idea being proposed by developers, planners, architects, business owners and community representatives studying Queenstown's affordable housing crisis.

On Monday the Queenstown Community Affordable Housing Work Group, an initiative lead by the Catalyst Trust and made up of about 40 people, presented their ideas to tackle the growing problem to Queenstown Lakes District Councillors, representatives from the Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry, MP Todd Barclay and the Queenstown Lakes Community Housing Trust.

The presentation included a "road map" of a two, 10 and 30 year look at what was needed to achieve a good supply and mix of healthy, affordable housing, as was five recommendations to help pave the way at community, local government and central Government level.

Catalyst Trust chairwoman Cath Gilmour.
John Edens

Catalyst Trust chairwoman Cath Gilmour.

Catalyst Trust chairwoman Cath Gilmour said looking to increase rental security, including creating longer-term leases, and developing a solid rental stock were some key ideas.

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"Part of the problem here is tenants get kicked out for summer," Gilmour said.

Most lease agreements were periodic or annual leases.

It was mooted that tenancy laws should be revised to give tenants greater security and more rights, such as up to a 10 year tenure and allowing renters to decorate, and capping rental price increases.

However, that was a central Government issue.

At a community level it was recommended to lobby central Government, the trust and local private property owners to increase security of rental tenure, to support year round and longer term rental agreements, and encourage existing community associations to represent the non-homeowners.

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Under a "Culture Change" it was hoped to "reverse the negative stigma of renting as a long-term housing choice" but also identify "stepping stones" needed on the property ladder.

Areas outlined as possible places to advocate change in two years was increasing density of the Gorge Road residential development, investigate council land availability for affordable housing and investigate a partnership with Ngai Tahu to develop the Wakatipu High School site.

Other recommendations that would need to go to a central Government level included implementing a broad reaching tourist levy/bed tax and creating a "special regional economic zone" for the district. 

"It's (tourist tax) something the council is already an advocate for," Gilmour said.

A report by the group said the zone would "recognise the unique, strong, tourism led economy in the region and support local government to make necessary funding decisions for housing affordability".

Barclay said the meeting provided some interesting recommendations.

"Affordable housing is an important topic in the Queenstown area and Catalyst (trust) has done some great work over the past few months.

"They have provided some broad recommendations to both local and central Government and I will certainly follow up with MBIE and my relevant ministerial colleagues for their feedback on these recommendations," Barclay said.

 - Stuff

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