About 40 tenants from apartment complex booted for Airbnb

Dozens of long-term Queenstown locals fear being left out in the cold after being given till mid-March to vacate their apartments.

About 40 residents across nine apartments in Hallenstein Street are the latest to join the throng of accommodation-seekers, having
been given notice their rentals are reverting to Airbnb.

A spokeswoman for Tahuna Management Limited, which manages the apartments, says all nine were listed on Airbnb before Covid hit.

The owners then decided to lease them to long-term tenants instead, but now wish to return them to visitor accommodation.

One of the tenants, who wants to remain anonymous, says she received an email from the property manager on December 16 with notice to move out by March 16, marking the 90-day period required.

She was told all nine apartments would be taken back one-by-one to be Airbnb rentals and, unfortunately, there weren’t any other units close to town to move into.

The tenant says she has a ‘‘good relationship’’ with the property manager and understands Queenstown’s a tourist town, but it’s ‘‘frustrating, being long-term residents’’.

The tenant, who says she’s moved six times in the past 18 months due to housing issues, has ‘‘given up’’ doing anything about it.

‘‘I have to pay double rent for about one-and-a-half months … I’m desperate.’’

Renter: ‘I’m going to have to live in a tent’

She also claims when she moved into the apartment, she was on a three-month ‘trial’ period due to an alleged issue with a reference, which she says has never happened before.

The Tahuna Management spokeswoman says the company’s aware of the tenancy laws, including those preventing short fixed-term tenancies from being used as trial periods, and denies that’s the case with any of their agreements.

Meantime, another local, who first moved to the area in 1998, has been searching since July last year for a long-term rental.

Danna, who only wants to be identified by her first name, says she moves around backpackers and has been house-sitting over the summer, but thinks she may have to resort to camping in tents.

‘‘I’m starting to think [rental hunting] is just a waste of time.’’

A New Zealand resident, local business owner and actively involved in the community, Danna says the only rooms she’s been offered are in Glenorchy and Kingston, too far away from central Queenstown to reasonably run her business.

She’d like to see campgrounds used by businesses and organisations to provide temporary accommodation for workers while the housing crisis is dealt to.

For those struggling to find a place to stay in Queenstown, Happiness House provides wellbeing support, free counselling and legal help, as well as internet access and more.

Meantime, Citizens Advice Bureau says Kiwi residents may be eligible for an accommodation benefit through Work and Income, and some may be able to access emergency accommodation through the Ministry of Social Development.

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