Shipping container for rent at $390/wk: Council to inspect

A converted shipping container being advertised as a one-bedroom home available to rent at nearly $400 per week will be investigated by council.

The Wellington rental, which was listed on Trade Me yesterday at the steep price of $390 per week for one tenant, was pulled off the website by a member of Trade Me’s Trust and Safety team just hours after going up.

The makeshift dwelling has caused outrage and bemusement online, with commenters questioning whether it is legal.

It is located in Johnsonville and is just metres from the main house in someone’s backyard, and the proposed parking space is a piece of lawn in front of the shipping container and separate utilities.

The laundry can be found in a green garden shed placed beside it.

The Trade Me ad, removed last night, promotes the one-bedroom home as being suitable for one person and in a good location to Onslow College and Johnsonville shopping mall.

The container – which has windows and has been lined with wood panels – comes fully furnished and includes a microwave, electric hot plate, bed, washing machine, dishwasher, fridge freezer and cutlery and plates, according to the ad.

It was not clear from the listing whether the container met rental standards for insulation, heating and ventilation. It was also unclear whether it was in line with Wellington City Council bylaws.

The Herald contacted the Trade Me advertiser yesterday, who confirmed the property was for rent and asked whether the reporter wanted a viewing. However, he declined to comment further.

Today a council spokeswoman confirmed it had come to council’s attention, and that someone would be sent out today to investigate further.

“We’ll see whether the building has any sort of consents and, more importantly, whether it is safe or otherwise,” she said.

“If our staff find anything seriously amiss then they can take action which could include stopping anyone from sleeping in the building.”

Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment’s national manager for compliance and investigation Steve Watson said his team regularly worked alongside the Wellington City Council to ensure landlords were complying with their various legal obligations when renting a property.

“MBIE’s Tenancy Compliance and Investigations Team will conduct an initial investigation and engage with Wellington City Council to establish whether the situation falls under the Residential Tenancies Act 1986,” he said.

Meanwhile, Trade Me’s policy and compliance manager James Ryan said their Trust and Safety team monitored the site constantly for misleading on non-compliant listings.

“All Trade Me members must comply with New Zealand law and that includes the Residential Tenancies Act, House Improvement Regulations and Healthy Homes Guarantee Act,” he said.

“Any listings that appear to breach these acts are illegal and therefore cannot be listed onsite.”

He recommended prospective tenants ask questions, look at the member’s feedback, and inspect the accommodation in person, “so everyone has their eyes wide open from the beginning”.

“Members can also alert us to anything they believe to be non-compliant by clicking on the Community Watch button at the bottom of every listing which sends a notification to our Trust and Safety team.”

Pictures of the listing spread quickly on social media last night, with some commenters noting the $390 per week price tag was more than they paid on their mortgage for a standalone house.

Other rental listings online show studio apartments in the central city available for similar or lower prices.

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