Housing shortage: Mum resorts to Airbnb to stop family being homeless

Author
Nikki Preston, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 3 Mar 2020, 7:55PM
Samantha Rose, pictured with her daughter Oriah, is paying $95 a night for her and her two teenagers to share a room in a shared house because they can't find a rental in Hamilton. Photo / Alan Gibson
Samantha Rose, pictured with her daughter Oriah, is paying $95 a night for her and her two teenagers to share a room in a shared house because they can't find a rental in Hamilton. Photo / Alan Gibson

Housing shortage: Mum resorts to Airbnb to stop family being homeless

Author
Nikki Preston, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 3 Mar 2020, 7:55PM

A Hamilton mum is paying a minimum of $650 a week for her and her two teenagers to have a room in a shared house via Airbnb after they have repeatedly failed to secure a new rental.

Samantha Rose has been looking for a new home for her family for five weeks and says they are competing with up to 40 applicants over each property due to a gross shortage of rental properties in the city.

In the meantime the Rose, her 17-year-old daughter Oriah and 14-year-old son Kei have been forced to rent a room in a shared house via Airbnb, with Oriah and her mum sleeping in the same bed.

They are currently at their fourth temporary accommodation since Rose sold the house she owned with her former partner in mid-January, costing Rose between $650 and $750 a week.

"We cannot keep shifting each week from one shared house to another, I cannot keep paying 65 per cent more in weekly accommodation costs than an average rent, I cannot keep taking time off work to view houses, I cannot keep paying to keep all our stuff in storage that we want to be able to access, we cannot keep dealing with this issue as an individual family when it is a systems problem - we need a solution and urgently."

"These extra accommodation costs are putting me into financial hardship."

The working mum said she and her daughter had visited and applied for about 25 rental properties in Hamilton, only to find out they hadn't been successful for any of them. They wanted to spend between $450 and $510 per week.

Rose was employed as a community development adviser, had good references and a good credit rating so was unsure why she couldn't find a house.

She said one of the biggest frustrations was that a lot of the houses they were being turned away from were sub-standard properties which were dirty, had threadbare carpets, peeling wallpaper and old fixtures, yet asking for high prices.

Rose said she had no expected it to take so long and it was extremely taxing.

"The constant instability, not knowing, being unsettled and dealing with hope and rejection is causing anxiety and stress."

Oriah, who had also attended viewings on her mum's behalf, said viewings were cut-throat with people trying to sweet talk the agent in the hope of being chosen.

The family had now widened their initial search from Hillcrest where the children attended school to Hamilton, Cambridge and surrounds, as they were getting desperate. They had also thought outside the box and looked a getting a tiny house, or renting a smaller house with a caravan but it didn't stack up financially.

Harcourts Hamilton Rental general manager Melanie Rouse said there was definitely a shortage of three- to four-bedroom stand-alone rental properties in Hamilton.

"Things are going quite quickly with multiple people applying for properties. Last month we turned down 87 per cent of applicants and that's not because they are bad or anything it's literally just because there were a lot of good applicants for the property."

She said it was not uncommon to have about 25 applicants for one property.

There had also been a rental increase of 9.2 per cent in the last year, which hadn't been helped by the shortage.

They also had fewer properties available as landlords have been "scared" by the new tenancy rules and had chosen to sell up.

Hamilton Christian Night Shelter Trust manager Jo Turner said she had even noticed a squeeze on beds in the men's and women's night shelters since she started in the role last August.

"I've got a bottleneck because there is nowhere for them to go. There are no rentals, especially affordable rentals."

The shelters accommodated single people, while families went to motels.