One of the long-term rentals KDE Properties put out in September last year. KDE Properties had only been running short-term accommodation for about three years before the pandemic caused the Cook Islands border to shut to tourists. 23012046
Rarotonga residents and expatriates are struggling to secure housing as rents increase and landlords switch from long-term to tourist accommodation. Joanne Holden reports.
need for long-term housing in Rarotonga “far exceeds” supply, according to a
spokesperson from property management company Kimi Kāinga.
receive a huge number of enquiries from people looking for long-term
accommodation,” says the spokesperson.
some situations, the need for a place to stay is urgent, (renters) having been
displaced or about to be.”
to a KDE Properties spokesman, whose company switched its seven rental homes
from short-term to long-term when Covid-19 hit in 2020, one of his tenants had
been asked to move out of their previous home because the owner planned to go
New Zealand woman Carlene Kidwell had been looking for a place to live in
Rarotonga since August last year, only securing a home less than two weeks
before her partner was scheduled to start a three-year job contract as a
“senior Government official” on February 1.
partner is retired, but consults in engineering. We love the tropical weather
and a great lifestyle change in our golden years,” Kidwell told Cook Islands
News from her home in Papamoa, Tauranga.
the main obstacle to moving to the Cook Islands was “very few long-term
rentals”, she says. “Apparently the locals make a lot more money out of
her search, Kidwell had enquired with a real estate agent, on a Facebook page
dedicated to long-term rentals in Rarotonga, and even with the owner of the
place she and her husband stayed during a visit to the island in August.
“Always the same answer: nothing available.”
Islands Tourism Industry Council president Liana Scott says she knows of one
landlord moving from long-term to tourist accommodation when flights from
Hawaii and Australia start up later this year.
am aware of the difficulty in securing long-term accommodation on the island,” says
is not a new problem but is exacerbated by high occupancies, and at times when
Government has projects on the island that require overseas expertise,
long-term rentals are quickly swiped up.”
some tourism operators, especially those with larger businesses on the island,
having purpose-built accommodation for staff is a “necessary component of
operations”, she adds.
says securing long-term housing for workers is a challenge “in any climate or
cost of importing labour generally factors accommodating staff as either one of
the costs, or one of the hindrances.”
Kāinga mainly fielded enquires from renters looking for a studio unit or
one-bedroom place, says its spokesperson, adding it seems homes with at least
two bedrooms were most readily available.
are charging significantly more for their property than locals can generally
afford. This is further exacerbating the difficulties locals are experiencing
when trying to secure housing.”
spokesperson says they have “observed this trend” of landlords shifting away
from long-term accommodation into short-term.
from landlords indicate concerns about the treatment of their property or
properties by long-term tenants.”
KDE Properties spokesman says he hopes to revert to short-term in one to two
years, and would be “keeping an eye” on the upcoming Hawaii and Australia
flights to see if there will be enough tourists to support changing sooner.
now, there’s a higher demand for long-term.
make less than half of what we were making in short-term rentals.
just that the short-term availability is now higher than four years ago. There
aren’t enough flights to cover all the short-term rentals.
are looking for something with a pool, aircon – it all adds up. We don’t have
pools at all seven properties would be first on the agenda before making the
switch, he said.
will put the pools in, just to give it that little bit extra to meet the
demand.” While the spokesman had been renting out properties since building his
first home in 2003, he had only been running them as short-term accommodation
for about three years before the pandemic caused the Cook Islands border to
shut to tourists.
spokesman says some potential tenants had complained about the price of
long-term rent, but it was necessary to cover the cost of maintaining the
properties at a standard high enough for tourist accommodation.
rental prices have gone up from three years ago,” says the spokesperson.
“Everything has gone up because of Covid, that’s why we’re sticking at our
says long-term accommodation providers decreased the cost of rent during
Covid-19 because most of the island’s workers were on minimum pay while tourism
(motel, hotel, and resort) properties were empty, some accommodated staff in
rooms over this period to keep the take-home pay liveable.”
are “pros and cons” for landlords wanting to switch from long-term housing into
tourist accommodation, says Scott.
demand of upkeep to a high standard, regular servicing, and being on-call for
guests’ enquiries – particularly when the owner is fully-employed elsewhere –
can influence staying longterm.
rentals really requires proper evaluation. Marketing, repairs, and maintenance,
as well as in some instances staffing, needs to be considered. “However, if the
property has the right price point and ensures a high standard of services,
therefore getting good ratings via guests’ reviews, then these properties can
do very well in the short-term space.”