What is student accommodation and who can access it?
Student accommodation is an affordable housing option available for students enrolled at their higher education institution, including a university, polytechnic, or institute of technology. Such accommodation does not typically sit under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, but instead is recognised in the Education and Training Act 2020 and the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice 2021. Student accommodation is a social experience, allowing you to meet lots of new people with regular social events including quiz nights, sports events, film festivals, hall formals and more.
What forms of student accommodation are there available to me?
There may be several forms of student accommodation if you are enrolled student at your higher education institution, and could include any of the following:
- Halls of residence
Halls of residence provide accommodation for students by provided by their education institution, near or on campus. Accommodation duration is typically for the period of a term or a semester of study, although some halls can be booked for up to a year.
Halls vary significantly and can include single or shared rooms, ensuites or shared bathrooms, kitchens and communal areas, bed linen and cleaning services.
Typically halls of residence need to be booked ahead of the study semester and include a booking or administration fee, in addition to regular fees for accommodation and regular payment for heating, lighting, Wi-Fi and water. Some halls can include a catered option to provide meals to students, whereas others allow for self-preparation of meals.
- Apartments, studio units & cottages
Some education institutions provide their own houses, flats, apartments, studio units or cottages. These can sometimes be aimed as specific student cohorts, such as postgraduates or international students. This form of accommodation often sits under a residential agreement with the tertiary provider that includes a set of residential rules, a code of conduct, and a payment schedule.
Homestay is often available for international students. You are able to share a house with a family who share their domestic facilities with you, including bathrooms, washing machines, and kitchens, typically with the family providing for at least one shared meal per day. This is an excellent option for international students wanting to increased their understanding of English or learn about Kiwi culture, and is typically available for international students aged between 14-20 years of age, who either are too young to live in the halls of residence, who still wish to live in a family environment.
What are my rights in student accommodation?
In student accommodation you are an “occupier with basic protection,” which sits under the Protection from Eviction Act 1977. This means that you have the right for repairs to be done, with the landlord having the responsibility to ensure gas and electrical safety, furnishing are clean, and that there is no asbestos. A landlord in this context can only evict you with a possession order from court.
As of 2021, the Education (Pastoral Care of Tertiary and International Learners) Code of Practice or “the Code” also provides a clear outline of what students should have access to in student accommodation to ensure that they are safe and cared for. Part 5 of the Code ensures that tertiary providers have practices for ensuring that residents receive clear information regarding the accommodation and services provided, understand what it is to live in a communal living environment, and provide them with peer and learning support for wellbeing. It also outlines the expectations regarding accommodation staff especially for live-in engagement, and monitoring of residents’ wellbeing.
Who should I talk to if I have had a bad experience in the halls?
The halls are overseen by Residential Assistants (RAs), who are hired to connect with students in the halls to help students navigate their time at university. RAs act as as the live-in duty person in halls of residence. They have many responsibilities including acting as a mentor for other students and arranging social events. They are employed by third-parties who the universities get to oversee the halls, and can contact their employer to alert them if you need anything.
If you need further information regarding student accommodation, you can go to the Accommodation Services on your campus. They over see engagement with the third-parties in student accommodation. There will be a complaints submission process and appeals process for decisions made regarding tertiary-provider owned and operated accommodation.
If you are still struggling, you can contact your local student services or student association on campus who can provide you with support workers or advocates to provide you with what you need.
I am a student and I need financial support to aid me in housing. Where to I go for advice?
If you are a student who needs financial advice on housing, there are several places you can go. Firstly, it is important to know whether you are on the benefit, or student allowance and student loan. If you are on the benefit, all your financial questions should first be directed to Work and Income New Zealand. If you are on student allowance or student loan, you need to contact Studylink. If you are on both student allowance or loan in addition to other financial supports, such as the accommodation supplement or sole parent support, it might be helpful to contact the Ministry of Social Development directly, as Work and Income and Studylink are both branches of their Ministry.
If you are in financial hardship and you cannot oversee your student accommodation or rent in a way that can be immediately resolved with the Ministry, you can contact your local student services or student association on campus. They can provide you with access to foodbanks and hardship supports to help you through difficult times.
You can also do the eligibility test here to find out what you might be able to receive in financial support from Work and Income and Studylink. Check this each time you enrol for a new semester to identify whether you are able to receive additional supports.
Check out these resources on student accommodation in Palmerston North: