‘Underlying terror’ as only two long-term rentals available on Waiheke Island
A trio in their 70s who banded together to find a home on Auckland’s Waiheke Island were dismayed to find only two long-term rentals available.
Anne Bailey, Richard Cohen and Cathrine Lewis claim the properties they saw were snapped up quickly, with ‘tons of people’ looking.
Lewis has resided on the island for 22 years and is a musician and writer also known as Katy Soljak.
She said she had an “underlying fear” about leaving her current home in six weeks.
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Since leaving her long-term marriage, where she didn’t have to worry about housing, she had seen the reality of how few rentals were available, she said.
“I love Waiheke and want to stay. I’m connected to the community in so many ways.
Bailey, who has lived on the island for 15 years, will soon leave her third home in three years and is looking for more permanent accommodation, while Cohen recently arrived from California to be closer to her children and grandchildren.
Long-term rentals listed as available on Trade Me this week are a three-bedroom property at $1,800 per week and a four-bedroom house at $1,695 per week.
Meanwhile, a search on Airbnb showed more than 200 properties available for short-term rental on a weekend in mid-October.
Paul Carew, chairman of the Waiheke Community Housing Trust, said there was no housing shortage on the island.
“We don’t have a housing problem on Waiheke, we have a distribution problem.”
Carew addressed a community hearing about the situation last week, saying a zoning bias favored visitor accommodation over residential housing.
As of the 2018 census, there were 3,780 occupied private dwellings on the island and 2,079 unoccupied dwellings. Carew said there were hundreds of properties set aside for vacation accommodation or holiday homes.
In an effort to add more homes to the rental pool, Carew said, the trust was offering to help landlords bring their homes up to rental standards.
“The new heating and ventilation requirements are daunting. Many people on the island are short of money and have assets they cannot afford to maintain, including many widows,” Carew said.
The trust was also considering the possibility of building a new small house for the owner and then renting out his house, he said.
“Our main interest is to preserve community infrastructure.
“If there’s no one here to make your coffee and clean the toilets, it won’t really be a vacation.”
Carew would also like to see a change in planning regulations to make it easier for landlords to make separate units available for long-term rental rather than visitor accommodation.
A spokesperson for Auckland Council said the council’s district plan for the Hauraki Gulf Islands did not easily provide for multiple dwellings and that a change in district plan would require both community support and Politics.
Such a change would take a number of years to research, draft, notify and receive submissions, and even then a new set of planning provisions could be challenged, she said.