Raetihi residents tell narratives of increasing issues with affordability and availability as a result of rental properties being converted to visitor accommodation and houses being bought as holiday homes by people outside of the district.
“If you are looking at younger families wanting to buy a house, housing is not affordable. The pricing hasn’t traditionally been too bad but when it started going up in Auckland they started buying our houses down here. I brought my house for $56,000 but houses now going for $245,000 should only be $90,000 at the most.”
“People from outside are buying houses not because they’re moving here but for holiday homes. They’re vacant most of the time.”
“There is teacher housing and sometimes they go on to buy in this area. But it is so hard finding housing. It’s a big issue. If they don’t have anywhere to live they won’t come for a job.”
“The housing two years ago was so cheap. In two years it’s boomed. Now on the market is a three-bedroom house for $500,000. No one would have ever though that could be. Out of towners are coming in. I know a number of families who have moved here from Ohakune because it was cheaper. I don’t think in terms of the housing it is going to slow down. Ohakune is at its maximum so people are being sent this way and encouraged to come this way, so a house will hit the market and they’ll grab it. So that’s going to keep escalating because everybody is coming this way. And that has an impact on families that come from here and want to return to the area, they can’t”.
“There’s not a lot of land available to build on and what there is it’s expensive. The land’s skyrocketed too.”
Social housing or housing options for low income families was seen as lacking.
“I think they need to build social housing here, particularly for the locals. I don’t think you’re going to change the buy up from the cities. People are looking for the rental side, they’re not in the market for buying but there is desperate need for housing that is warm, healthy and it maybe that they need to come up with a better solution than they’ve got.”
“All our houses that were Housing New Zealand stock have all been sold, so there’s no social housing here. Council tried to counteract it a little bit by adding a $200 charge for Airbnb’s a year. That’s half a night’s accommodation in some cases. We had five families kicked out because of P in the houses when the government said that with any P in the houses it basically had to be knocked down. And that’s before they found out that all it required was a good wash and that. But those houses are still empty.”
Overcrowding in winter was seen as a significant issue affecting families in Raetihi, occurring as the result of seasonal demand for holiday rentals.
“There’s no rental houses, but if you can get one they’re about $250 to $300 a week. And one of the things is, it’s a real problem with housing. And at times we have had 17 families in this area living in houses which are substandard or families living together because they couldn’t afford, they couldn’t get into housing. Because once the winter comes, that’s it. Because all the empty houses become ski rentals in the winter. So if our locals go into a house in the summer, in the winter they have to get out! So they go in with other family and there is overcrowding and people sleeping in garaging. It causes overcrowding and at school you see a lot of vomiting and diarrhea; it’s sad.”
“In Raetihi there is not enough rental houses so you’ll get families living together and overcrowding. In sheds. Four kids in a room in lounges, in common areas.”
The quality of housing in Raetihi was, in many cases, thought to be poor with substandard insulation and heating. However it was also felt that it was common for tenants to not look after rental properties well and information or education programmes addressing housing issues were not always available locally.
“And also we find that some of the rental housing, as of the 1 July they had to be a standard. No. And people renting those houses are not going to say anything and we asked the District Council who is monitoring that? No one”.
“I truly believed that if our locals looked after our homes, their rentals, they’d still be in them today. Just this week two owners that own their houses from Australia have been, they bought in our town coz they loved it. These people have been kicked out of their homes because they weren’t looking after them. As much as we’ve lost or gained in Raetihi, it’s not always on the system, it’s educating our own from the home whether it be in housing or medical. It’s like if there’s a leaking tap, they leave it for two years and it rots the house. It will cost $7,000 to fix it. It’s to do with education.”
“There is some moves around some of that stuff, but the problem is it’s delivered in Ohakune. The week before last a healthy homes specialist came in and delivered a programme but it was in Ohakune, it wasn’t here. And that does cause a barrier I think. And I think that’s a matter of us an entire community that we share some of these resources around […] we’ve done some videos about cleaning your gutters out, and the little things, but the challenge is reaching the right people.”
“The new standards only apply to rental houses. They’re not all rentals. You can live in your own house anyway you like. In any respect it’s too expensive for a lot of landlords to do. For such a low rent house and with low wages etcetera, tenants can’t afford to pay higher rents and landlords have to put all this money into it and it just doesn’t marry up.”