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Otago investors reluctant to use new rating scheme

Otago property investors are hesitant to participate in a voluntary scheme to star rank properties.

Monday, May 17th 2010, 10:21AM

by The Landlord

The Student Tenancy Accommodation Rating Scheme (STARS) is a collaboration between the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago and the Otago Polytechnic.

Any investor willing to join the programme will have their property listed on a website where they will be given a star ranking from one to five after filling out a questionnaire. Questions relate to fire safety, security, insulation, heating and ventilation and general amenities.

Otago Property Investors Association president Grant Roydhouse said because of the way the questions were worded they favoured brand new buildings but most rental properties were not brand new.

"I have several properties that have been renovated to a good standard but I am not sure how many stars they would get," he said.

Landlords received a higher star ranking for things like curtains reaching the floor and smoke alarms in all the bedrooms.

"What difference do curtains that go to the floor make to the performance of the property? Ninety percent of curtains will not go to the floor," Roydhouse said.

He estimated less than 50% of property investors would join the scheme.

North end landlord Cliff Seque was not entering any of his properties in the scheme. He feared the Otago University Students Association would try to determine room rates by star rankings. He also had concerns about the questions in the questionnaire, the feedback students could place on the site and the risk of the scheme becoming compulsory.

University of Otago director of accommodation services and spokesman for the STARS working group, James Lindsay, said the Students Association was going to target its marketing towards  the scheme but he did not think a room rate could be determined by a star ranking.

"The location and number of bedrooms will still determine a room rate not the star rating. The scheme was aimed at highlighting good landlords who went the extra mile."

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