Photos: Exposed wires and putty around the windows, but $815 a week Wellington rental generating lots of interest

Flatting students are resigned to paying for what they acknowledge is substandard housing, an issue starkly highlighted with a property in Wellington.

One of the bedrooms in a flat at 21 Marion St, Wellington. Source: Supplied

The flat at 21 Marion St, claims to have four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It comes with a washing machine in the main room, a stove and an "actual working oven", according to the current tenants.

But photos of the property show exposed wiring, a broken window, cracked walls and carpeting bubbling up from the ground. The building isn't rated as earthquake-proof. Multiple bedrooms have curtains instead of doors and at least one only has three walls.

It costs $815 per week.

"I knew the state of the place we were living in, but you know, it's cheap, it's central and it's functional," current departing tenant and student Isaac Kirkwood told 1 NEWS.

"As a student with $235 coming in on a weekly loan from the Government, trying to find a place that fits into that budget is pretty difficult. My entire student loan allowance goes into rent."

The flat has had issues for years. A previous tenant says they didn't know any better when they first moved in, as a group of "naive" teenagers and students.

Looking back, she says: "We don't know if it was safe to live in."

"It's a reflection of Wellington flats... You take what you can get," the previous tenant told 1 NEWS.

A broken window repaired with expanding foam (left) and a replacement window, which is rusted open (right). Source: Supplied

At one point, one of the windows broke. The property manager at the time, who the tenant describes as "hands-off", brought in a maintenance worker.

The window was "fixed" when it was sprayed with expanding foam, permanently sealing it shut.

By the time Kirkwood moved in, it was replaced. But now that window is broken too, rusted and stuck partially open.

"We're in a difficult situation at the moment because student accommodation needs to be cheap but to make it cheap, standards need to somewhat be dropped," he says.

Read More
How small is too small? 'Cosy' Wellington flat may not legally be a bedroom

"But I also don't expect students to live in places like we do."

Kirkwood says the only issues they reported to the property manager were when the ceiling and windows started leaking. Both were fixed swiftly, he says.

For the other issues, he didn't think it was worth raising.

"I thought about it previously but I moved in with it in that state as an established flat and everyone there seemed OK with it, it just became the norm to be honest," he says.

"Our tenancy manager was actually pretty damn good at managing a pretty terrible building... I think he deals with a lot of people just absolutely destroying those flats, because of the state they're in and you think you can do it."

Up until a few days ago, the property was managed by Riverstone Property Management.

The main living space and kitchen in a flat at 21 Marion St, Wellington. Source: Supplied

Mark, who did not give his last name, declined to answer any questions, including about any measures the agency takes to inspect a property before taking it on board.

Mark Melville and Jeannie Melville are listed as directors of Riverstone Property in the Companies Register.

The flat is now managed by Quinovic's Thorndon branch, principal Kevin Edmunds confirmed to 1 NEWS, however says they only took over "in the last few days".

"As we have just taken over the property, we are in the process of working through Healthy Home compliance standards and will be taking actions required to ensure the property is compliant within the required time frames," he says.

He also did not respond to queries about measures the company takes before agreeing to manage a property.

1 NEWS was unable to contact the owner of the building.


There are two deadlines for private rentals when it comes to sticking to the healthy housing standards.

Any new or renewed tenancies from July 1, 2021 will be required to comply. However existing rental agreements will have until July 1, 2024.

Currently, ceiling and underfloor insulation is required in all rental homes and landlords need to sign a "statement of intent" to oblige by the healthy homes standards in new, varied or renewed tenancy agreements.

One of the bedrooms in a flat at 21 Marion St, Wellington. Source: Supplied

When asked, Kirkwood said it was difficult to say whether the flat was liveable or not.

"It depends on your personal standards," he says. 

When it comes to breaches of housing standards, it's largely down to tenants to report the issues.

If the property manager or landlord response isn't satisfactory, they can escalate to the Tenancy Services.

Despite everything, Kirkwood says there's still been plenty of people interested in moving into the flat.

Several viewings have already been scheduled.

News tips or more information? Email Breanna Barraclough or