Motels praised for easing rental shortfall
People living in motel rooms are helping to prevent a chronic shortage of accommodation in Nelson, social groups say.
Salvation Army Nelson community manager Major Jill Knight said long-term, furnished rooms rented out by motels and backpacker hostels were helping to ease demand for urgent accommodation.
The situation was on track to be the same as last year, when more residents became homeless, living in cars and garages, she said.
"I think it's great that motels are being inventive. It's also a good thing when you look at the rate they are offering and a lot of people don't have any furniture when they move."
Last week several motels told the Nelson Mail that they rented out rooms, starting from $260-$280 a week during winter. Tenants had to vacate at the end of the year or pay higher summer rates.
"There will be a problem when these people need to find somewhere to rent in summer," Major Knight said.
Budget Advice Nelson manager Marina Gosnell said backpackers had been offering permanent accommodation for several years, which was a great fix for clients needing urgent accommodation. They paid about $170 a week for a double room.
However, the Four Seasons Motel in Tahunanui - one of several in Nelson that offer long-term rooms - was refusing to comment today after coming under heat from other operators and the Motel Association in Nelson. The motel gave an eviction notice to this Nelson Mail reporter yesterday after the story was published.
The association's Nelson branch administration officer, John Gilbertson, said it was up to each motel to decide how it ran its business, but the prices mentioned in the story had prompted an angry reaction by some. "Some people want [Four Seasons manager Sascha Schwarze] out, but I don't think we would push him out."
Mr Gilbertson said he had never agreed with the subject of the article. It raised concerns about the sustainability of motels if long-term accommodation was offered, because it could lower room rates for short-term guests.
"[Moteliers] are concerned about some of the figures that were bandied about in the article. The sustainability of operating motels with long-term and short-term guests raises issues. It's not a sustainable business that can run on the figures bandied about," Mr Gilbertson said.
He said he struggled to believe that the room rates mentioned were possible.
Nelson Property Investors Association secretary Glenn Morris said motels offering long-term rooms was nothing new, despite it not being widely publicised. It had been happening for a while, he said.
The demand for rental property in Nelson was already beginning to heat up as summer approached and availability decreased while prices increased.
"It's trending towards a shortage of rental property, probably in another 12 months," said the property manager of Glenn's Vacancies. "There's a very gradual trend . . . it's not a crisis by a long shot, but it's getting bad in Auckland, and we are not far behind Auckland."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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