Is it an example of thinking outside the box, or should a Wellington landlord be sent to the dog box for trying to rent out an earthquake-prone loft with makeshift wooden cubicles as bedrooms?
Victoria University’s student association and health experts have both criticised the central Wellington apartment, which was listed on Trade Me for $600 a week.
The person who made the listing was unable to be reached for comment on Sunday.
The online listing shows at least two bedrooms that appear to be makeshift cubicles in the living room.
The ideal tenant is described as “considerate”, which is something you would need to be, as the loft only has one bathroom to service as many as five other housemates.
But it seems prospective tenants have not exactly been banging down the door. The property was advertised on March 22 and still looked to be on the market on Sunday.
So what is the problem here?
Landlord lists a scummy property. Students decide not to live there.
Victoria University Students’ Association president Jonathan Gee said he had never seen a cubicle apartment like it in Wellington.
“I think it creates a new definition of really below-standard or really, really cheap accommodation – trying to get a quick buck out of students,” Gee said. “It’s quite sad. That’s not livable.”
Gee questioned whether the thin, wooden walls separating the cubicles – inside a building that had received a yellow sticker from Wellington City Council – posed a potential safety risk.
A yellow sticker means the building’s owner has 15 years to strengthen it or be forced to demolish it.
Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman, from the University of Otago, who is part of a team of health experts advocating for a rental warrant of fitness, said the advertised property was “another step down in standards”.
She questioned whether the property would meet basic public health requirements around ventilation, and whether tenants would be able to get out of the property during an earthquake or fire.
“I can’t see how that could possibly be legal.”
Gee believed the “low-quality” offering demonstrated a lack of suitable student accommodation in the capital.
Actually it proves the opposite. The fact that it has been advertised for four months and no one has taken it up, shows students have found better options.
Trade Me communications and community spokesperson, Logan Mudge, says the auction site expected all landlords to make a full disclosure about properties they list.
“We also urge all potential tenants to do their due diligence and if they’re not happy with it, don’t rent it,” he said.