Build more houses to stop overcrowding: council


Queenstown’s council isn’t ruling out regulating residential boarding houses.

But for now it’ll try to deal with overcrowding by making it easier to build houses – through mooted planning rule changes to increase residential density and introduce mixed-use business zones.

Queenstown Lakes District Council district plan manager Matthew Paetz says: “There’s a massive problem in terms of the mismatch between demand and supply, especially with the .”

His comments come after a Fernhill house – - shot to national attention last week.

The mismatch has sent rental prices rocketing – and led to overcrowding and the creation of residential boarding houses, which don’t require consent. 

Trade Me data shows median rents across the district have increased by almost 32 per cent in two years.

The median rent, district-wide, in 2013 was $380. This year it was $500. 

Paetz says: “That’s across the district, so I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some parts in central Queenstown that have increased more in percentage terms than that.”

By increasing the housing supply the council hopes to address overcrowding, he says. 

Paetz says the council has no immediate plans to regulate residential boarding houses.

“At the heart of this problem is a lack of supply and anyone who’s tried to rent in this town – including myself – will know that it’s costly and availability is very poor.

“A natural outcome of that is that you’ll get overcrowding.

“So, we’re trying to address the issue by addressing the cause of the issue.

“We’re not saying we won’t consider potential regulation [of residential boarding houses] but we also need to be cognisant of unintended consequences.

“For example, if we start to clamp down on boarding house development, where are people going to live?”

Last week council property services manager Peter Laurenson said provided a property was not unsafe or unsanitary it could be run as a residential boarding house – for example, a Fernhill property housing up to 20 tenants.

All that’s required is for tenants to be aware it’s a boarding house, for them to provided with an agreement identifying their room and for them to know who the other tenants are.

However, if a property owner wants to rent their property for “short-term” accommodation to fee-paying guests for up to 90 days a year, they might need to register as visitor accommodation or obtain resource consent, which can result in a rates hike.

Submissions on the proposed district plan close on October 23.

Hearings are tentatively scheduled between February and July next year and decisions are expected in the second half of 2016, Paetz says.

Otago Daily Times