International Students’ Common Housing Issues
Concerns over language have led some students struggling to find accommodation in the New Zealand city of Wellington. Students who apply for accommodation often find that they are being asked if English is their first language, experiencing difficulties if it is not.
The situation means that there are some students who are having trouble getting accommodation before the academic year starts. Student unions are calling for the tenancy act to be reconsidered considering this as it could lead to non-English speakers being discriminated against.
There are concerns among some landlords about foreign students but this is not just a problem in New Zealand and it does not apply only to students. A survey has shown that in the UK, around a quarter of private landlords are reluctant to rent a property to a foreign person or to someone whose name appears to be foreign.
Many students now choose to spend time in a foreign country as part of their studies and the numbers that do are at a record high. However, there is a general mistrust of foreigners and the reluctance of landlords to rent to them is also at a high. For many it is an opportunity to improve language skills as well as meet new people and if there is an accommodation issue in one area then there will be fewer language students.
There is also the bureaucracy involved with renting to a foreign student. In the UK, for example, there are now regulations in place that mean landlords have a legal responsibility to ensure that any foreigner that they rent to has the legal right to be in the UK, so they must carry out their own passport and visa checks. For some this is too much to do so they choose not to rent to foreign students at all but as already mentioned, this raises many other problems.