7 May 2015

Factory growth creates Hokitika rental strain

8:38 am on 7 May 2015

Expansion at Hokitika's milk factory is thought to be behind a shortage of rental properties in the West Coast town.

Hokitika, is one of the three places in Te Wai Pounamu where Ngaruahine men were sent and incarcerated without trial

Photo: 123RF

Westland Milk Products is New Zealand's second biggest dairy company, and its main site is undergoing significant developments including a new dryer which will create 38 new jobs when it is built.

About 150 contractors, most of whom have come from outside the area, are working on the project and property managers say vacant rentals are few and far between in the town of about 3000 people.

"We don't have any rentals available, we have full occupancy," said Ray White Hokitika property manager Lisa Oquist.

"We manage just over 80 rental properties and we don't have any free. A few months ago we were getting three or four calls each day from people wanting a place to rent."

She said the demand had eased but there was still nothing available.

"I always suggest to people they fill out one of our application forms, and hopefully something will come up. But it's very difficult to get a rental here in Hokitika at the moment."

Resident, Lyndon Slater described the rental situation as dire, and said that had been the case for a while.

"I was going from living with family to looking for my own place. Basically, it took three months before I even found a place, which was a place that wasn't advertised, it was just through word of mouth. So, it is hard to find a place to rent," said Mr Slater.

Real estate companies and locals put the demand on housing down to the growth taking place at the dairy factory.

Westland Milk Products general operations manager Simon Bastion said most of the contractors working on the new dryer were from out of town.

"There are 150 contractors working on the plant as we speak. And they're obviously all spending their wages at various outlets in the town, and driving up demand for accommodation for the duration of the project," he said.

"Another 50 people are going to be on the job for the commissioning stage, so the number of contractors at the factory will peak at roughly 200 in August or September."

Harcourts Hokitika real estate agent Kori Hutana, who sells property rather than managing rentals, said there had been an obvious effect on the market.

"The prices of rent are going up, the odd person's taking their house off the market and just continuing to rent it out and upping the price. So yeah, the old dairy factory's put a bit of a strain on the market," he said.

"Some people seem to be buying homes at the lower end of the market, between $150,000 and $220,000, rather than renting a more expensive place"

Lyndon Slater is considering that as an option.

"I'm certainly looking into it, just because of the cost of rent, and the cost of houses in Hokitika. Houses are cheap, rent's reasonably expensive, considering."