Sunday, November 28

Wellington rents ‘out of control’ pushing students to drop out of school for work

There is concern that college students are starting to move out of the capital due to high rent prices, as some students struggle to juggle between their studies and their bills.

Residential building, accommodation, housing, rent.

Photo: 123RF

It was a message shared between the president of the Victoria University student association, Michael Turnbull, and his counterpart from Massey University in Wellington, Tessa Guess.

The couple say that housing affordability was one of the biggest problems students in Wellington faced, with some even dropping out for work as a result.

The most recent Trade Me Property data (from August, released in September) puts the median weekly rent in Wellington City at $ 600, $ 30 more than Auckland City.

Teresa Davenport, a sophomore at the University of Victoria, was looking for something more affordable because her boyfriend was moving home to save money.

She had originally “basically begged” him to move so she could live in Wellington City.

Davenport currently paid $ 160 a week for her share of the rent (her room was actually the living room), but that would “go up to about $ 250” if she were the only one renting it.

She was still struggling to cover her cost of living despite working the maximum Studylink allowed without reducing her student allowance.

“Rents are getting out of control,” he said.

Davenport regularly looked at the rooms listed on Trade Me and “even right now they are all between $ 240 and $ 250 a week.”

“How am I supposed to allow myself that?”

Davenport said he would work as hard as he could over the summer to pay for next year, but was finally considering moving into his parents’ home in Whanganui.

He said he would probably rely on the college’s “really good” financial advisers next year, as well as free food through the student association.

His experience sounded all too familiar to Wellington City Councilor Tamatha Paul, who found herself in a similar position as a student in 2017.

However, he thought things were much worse today, a statement echoed by Turnbull and Guest.

Turnbull said many students found it difficult “to be thrown into the rental world” once they left freshman residences and their “comprehensive support.”

He said the owners were “scalping” the students, with other high costs.

Guest agreed, saying that the hundreds of students he had seen asking for help were just the tip of the iceberg.

In a statement, Massey University said it had increased its student accommodation this year and made it an option for all students.

But the University of Victoria said that focusing on more than rooms for school dropouts would stray too far from its primary purpose and that the city’s broader housing issues needed to be addressed.

Recognizing that universities had limited actions, Guest and Turnbull wanted the local and central government to take urgent action.

Paul did not mince words about the council doing more, saying it had been “shocking” and “containing” the house.

“We have contributed enormously to making students’ lives miserable,” he said.

Paul said that students who couldn’t afford city living was “one of the worst indicators” of Wellington’s housing crisis because they only paid per room, compared to those who paid for a whole house.

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