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Desperate renters turn eye to empty houses

Mar 31, 2023

People are asking Queenstown real estate agents if they can stay in vacant houses as the rental crisis continues to snowball.

The high demand for limited rentals has meant some are resorting to living in cars, tents, hostels and couch surfing.

Tall Poppy Queenstown owner Keeley Anderson has been getting daily calls about available rentals or checking if people could stay in vacant properties she was selling.

"People are seeing the listings on TradeMe and are so desperate they're getting creative in figuring out how to try and house themselves.

"They see photos of a vacant home and try their luck by asking. I can understand why when people are living in tents or in emergency accommodation."

Rising interest rates, tenancy laws and the removal of interest deductibility meant more 'mum and dad' landlords were choosing to sell while some baby boomers were freeing up their retirement nest egg, she said.

"For the ones still holding onto their rentals, they need the security of knowing they can sell easily if finances stop adding up.

"That means they're more reluctant to put tenants in on longer, fixed-term tenancies, so periodic tenancies - which just roll over month-to-month - are becoming more common. This allows sellers to list with vacant possession in the contract.

"Buyers are often put off by the complications around purchasing a house that has tenants in it."

But that meant less security for renters.

Anderson said more home buyers were looking further afield in areas like Cromwell who then commute to Queenstown for work.

"The other unusual thing we're seeing is companies who are desperate for workers buying properties to house them, which shows just how compounded the situation has become."

Main image (Photo: 123RF): Queenstown is short on rental properties. 

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