Hosting an ‘absolute nightmare’ | Otago Daily Times News Online

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Frustrated businesses and workers in Wanaka are demanding a definitive response to the city’s decades-old annual winter accommodation crisis.

Hotel worker Nicola Abbott is asking for national financial support for high-density apartment-style development for short-term workers.

Young workers like her were considering relocating due to lack of housing, she said.

“[We] are chased by homes unoccupied for months listed on Airbnb for exorbitant prices and hundreds of people are asking for a single list where families come first. “

It was “absurd” that several million dollars in taxes could be spent on the Auckland Harbor Bridge cycle path when there was a national housing crisis, Ms Abbott said.

Dave Thorn had just started a food business in Wanaka and feared his workers would struggle to find a place to stay, and suggested considering Lake Hawea.

“I have a house here in Wanaka but I know one of our team members … was really struggling to find a place to live. She ended up, I think, applying through a roommate with friends. …

“I know she would have submitted around 50 applications for whatever was available in Wanaka.

“I think they all failed, ended up sharing an apartment,” he said.

Mr Thorn’s business partner, Dr Hart, said finding a home in Queenstown had been “fairly easy”, while Wanaka was “an absolute nightmare”.

“[There] there would have been 40-50 listings available in Queenstown while in Wanaka there was only one … I wouldn’t have been surprised if that had happened in the first three or four minutes. “

Cinema Paradiso operator and Queenstown Lakes Deputy Mayor Calum MacLeod hit it off.

“About four years ago we had a staff member who finally found an apartment but they were paying $ 160 a week for a bed in a six-bed room,” he said.

He and his wife Andrea also couldn’t find a home when they arrived in town in 1989.

They now housed staff in three apartments.

“Andrea and I spent two months in a tent at Hawea Flat in May and June.

“We ended up finding a place, which we had to move in two weeks while the [house owner’s] the family came down for a ski vacation. It’s a somewhat recurring theme.

“I think this year is a little worse because we have such an influx of tourists from Australia, which puts pressure on the Airbnb network – if people can get $ 150 a night, why would they? [only take] $ 150 per week?

“It’s a shame. It’s something we need to work towards in discussion with major employers and the board to find a positive solution,” said Cr MacLeod.

Wanaka businessman and developer Steve Schikker has been a co-owner of Racer’s Edge sports store for 34 years.

For most of that time, it provided staff quarters.

“I think there have been quite a few businesses in town that have bought houses, which is a great investment anyway, but I’m sure there are also some workers who have had to give up their homes. employment.”

Recently, Mr. Schikker obtained permission from the environmental court to build an accommodation complex for 90 workers at Mt Iron.

However, the project cannot get off the ground until access and funding issues for the roundabouts are resolved with the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Mr Schikker calls on Wanaka advisers to help move the road proposal forward.

“It’s frustrating … When we were making our plans, that [workers’ accommodation] was a set of community concern. It’s a shame it has taken so long, “said Mr Schikker.

Cr MacLeod said the board will participate in the conversation between the developer and the Mt Iron agency.

Councilor Quentin Smith said he would help get the Mount Iron Roundabout into an agency work program, using funds from the organization’s long-term regional transportation plan.

Wanaka’s seasonal rental housing problems had become “deep-rooted” and in recent years landowners had realized more capital gains than rent received, Cr Smith said.

Changes to rental laws were designed to improve shoddy homes but had the unintended consequence of reducing inventory, he said.

Home & Co accommodation agent Colleen Topping said a seasonal winter housing shortage was a “centuries-old problem” in Wanaka and she agreed with calls for residents to open their homes. heart and home to winter workers.

The number of vacation rental advertisements was commercially sensitive but had declined significantly.

“We’re down to a third of what we had in 2019. That’s a two-thirds drop,” she said.

The drop in listings was triggered by new laws turning fixed-term rentals into ongoing recurring rentals and preventing landlords from asking tenants to leave without a valid reason.

The owner could take back a house for a minimum of 90 days for his own use, but most owners used a vacation home sporadically and it was not their sole or permanent residence.

“The main reason for not entering the seasonal market is that they don’t want to be caught off guard by not being able to get their home back.”

– By Marjorie Cook

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