Worker accommodation shortage

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    The rapid rise of Airbnb is contributing to a serious shortage in worker accommodation in Southland, impacting employers’ ability to attract and retain staff, a new housing report has found.

    The Southland Housing Assessment Report was released by the Southland Housing Action Forum last week highlighting Southland’s housing crisis.

    The report estimated about 2800 new houses were needed within the next 12 months to meet the growing demand, of which 352 properties were needed for rental accommodation.

    Southland Housing Action Forum, made up of Southland business representatives, government agencies and community groups, had been set up to identify and facilitate solutions to the region’s housing crisis across all housing markets.

    Venture Southland (VS) group manager, business and strategic projects Steve Canny said the increase in Airbnb properties was having a significant effect on the availability of rental houses in the region.

    VS’s latest analysis found there had been a 32.2% increase in Airbnb listings across all of Southland in the past 12 months, a 40% increase in Fiordland and 62.3% increase in Invercargill.

    Businesses in the tourism sector had indicated the shortage of rental accommodation, particularly in Fiordland basin, Te Anau and Stewart Island, was affecting their ability to recruit and retain seasonal staff needed to meet the rapid growth in tourism, he said.

    “Airbnb’s effect is right across the region, but is most acute in tourism towns,” he said.

    “It is not a new issue, but it has become more acute because of the rise in tourism.”

    The housing report found half of the businesses which responded to the Southland Business Survey 2018 indicated they planned to increase their staff next year, creating at least 7010 new jobs, and it was estimated 33% of those would be employees from outside the region, requiring 2313 new houses.

    Mr Canny said worker accommodation was an important consideration which needed to be factored in when planning any new developments.

    Hospitality New Zealand, Southland accommodation sector chairman Philip Todd said the increase in Airbnb properties was of huge concern to the industry.

    He estimated there were 300 Airbnb properties listed in Te Anau.

    “If councils don’t act, it could signal the end of the motel sector.

    “The motel sector can’t survive the onslaught from a totally unregulated industry.”

    Representatives from the Southland Housing Action Forum presented the Southland Housing Assessment Report to Housing Minister Phil Twyford in Wellington last week.

    Forum chairman Shaun Drylie said there was much discussion about the housing crisis in Auckland and Queenstown, but Southland was facing one too.

    “We have to be very lucid and clear with our facts to be heard above the noise….so we don’t find ourselves overlooked with some of those solutions that are coming,” he said.

    Representatives from the newly-formed Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were expected to visit Southland before Christmas to assess the situation.

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