Long-term rentals are the 'perfect option'

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 12:58 28/03/2014
 Michael Woodhouse
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ
COMFORTABLE: Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese with her mother Jean Hadley outside Jean’s new home in Acorn Way in Stoke.

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Housing Minister Nick Smith says "stupid rules" imposed on developers needed to change if more of them are to be encouraged to take on housing projects such as Acorn Way in Stoke.

The private lane of 14 new rental townhouses off Neale Ave was officially opened yesterday by developers and owners Bryan Turner and Lyn Marshall, with help from Nelson mayor Rachel Reese and Dr Smith.

The difference in the townhouse development is that none is for sale, but available for long term rental.

Rent starts from $408 a week for a three-bedroom, single garage home.

"Most were let before we started building," Ms Marshall said.

She said the average age of community and social housing stock in New Zealand was 40 and that the private sector, with the right support, had the ability to provide a greater range of housing stock.

Dr Smith complimented her and Mr Turner for the example they had set in leading a new concept in providing community housing.

He said the core of New Zealand's housing problem was "attitudinal" and that somehow developers had come to be seen as the "bad guys".

That needed to change so that more villages like Acorn Way could be built.

Dr Smith also applauded the builders and tradespeople who had "done the hard yards", and said his challenge over the next year would be to "get another 30,000 units of the type" built around New Zealand.

Ms Reese said the development stood out as an example of what the council wanted to achieve with comprehensive housing development.

She acknowledged the "leap of faith" the owners had taken in purchasing the land and committing to the development.

The $5.6 million development is on a 4542 sq m site which was purchased off the Oceania Group. The previous 10 homes on the site were relocated and renovated, including several which were taken to the West Coast where they are now used as miners' accommodation.

Ms Reese's mother Jean Hadley has recently moved into the last available home in the Acorn Way village, having spotted the buildings under way while delivering campaign leaflets in the neighbourhood during last October's election.

Mrs Hadley was widowed five years ago, and has sold her home in Blenheim to move to Nelson.

"The key for me was the opportunity it provided to free me from the responsibility of home ownership, but still provide security of tenure. It's the only type of rental property I would consider," she said.

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Mrs Hadley was also attracted to the concept that tenants were encouraged to treat the homes as if they owned them.

She said the community in Stoke was what finally convinced her to move there.

"It has a sense of a rural, community village feel. That's why it feels so comfortable."

Acorn Way resident Ed Dolejs, who spoke yesterday on behalf of the village residents, said long-term rental was a perfect option for many people, particularly those no longer interested in exterior maintenance of their homes.

Ms Marshall said there was no age limit on occupiers, but most were of retirement age, and mainly people who had moved from larger family homes and who wanted somewhere to live long term but without the worries of repairs and maintenance.

The option was also an alternative for people who did not want to tie up their capital in a retirement village or in a residential property.

Yearly rent increases are based on the CPI index, or 2 per cent per year, whichever was greater.

- Nelson

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