VUWSA warns Wellington is heading towards a student housing crisis.

The annual flat hunt for Wellington tertiary students has started earlier than ever but with growing student numbers and fewer affordable flats on the market students are getting desperate.

VUWSA president Rory Lenihan-Ikin says access to tertiary education is slowly getting closed off to those who can't afford the cost of living in Wellington.

“The mismatch between the cost of living and student support is beyond a joke. Getting a tertiary education is something increasingly only available for those whose parents can afford to fund them,” he says.

“We’ve had dozens of individual requests for flatting help over the last few weeks, and this is only the tip of iceberg.”

Students are now entering into bidding wars to secure flats, many of which are not in a liveable condition, he says.

“Students are simply desperate to secure something. Landlords and rental agents hold all the power, which is even forcing bidding wars between students.”

Despite the price of rentals going up about 10% in the last year, the quality remains abysmal, Lenihan-Ikin says.

“2017 will be another year of renters getting sick in cold, mouldy flats that they are paying an arm and a leg for, unless action is taking such as the introduction of a rental WOF.”

And on top of increased living costs students are racking up tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, Lenihan-Ikin says.

If students are feeling pressured to sign leases for properties they think are unsafe to live in, we encourage them to come and talk to our advocacy service.

As a way to make the flat-finding process easier and hopefully avoid students being left out in the cold, VUWSA has created a list of five key tips to find and secure a suitable roof over your head.

We also have a guide to flatting which can be found on our website: http://www.vuwsa.org.nz/flatting-guide/