Sharing rooms, hot-bedding and sex-for-rent are some of the extremes some students are going through in Auckland to secure accommodation in an overheated housing market, the national students' association says.
Students are set to begin or return to university in the coming weeks, amid concerns about the difficult and sometimes sub-standard conditions for those wanting to live in the inner city.
One particular apartment on Auckland's Wakefield St has been advertised for $130 a week, but the tenant has to share the small room with three others.
New Zealand Union of Students' Association president Rory McCourt says the situation is dire for some students – especially those coming from overseas.
"I'm not sure who's surprised to see that we're seeing the hard edges of the housing crisis – that people are making really tough decisions in order to live in affordable accommodation, including sharing, hot-bedding, sometimes sex-for-rent and I think we're seeing these things at an increasing rate and I think that's because housing is unaffordable," he told RadioLIVE.
"International students are more vulnerable than others. There's not only language barriers, but they also attend institutions which are much smaller – the small private training establishments in Auckland in particular."
The "huge cost pressure" on students forces them to make "tough decisions" about where to live, Mr McCourt says.
This included students living far from their university or tertiary providers, living at home with their parents throughout their studies, sharing beds and living in cramped conditions.
While international students are more likely to agree to such conditions, Mr McCourt says it is a problem across the board.
"I don't think we should be making cultural excuses for a really terrible housing market.
"If we've got a bottom line that people should be in healthy, affordable accommodation then this isn't it," he says.
Aside from being bad for their health, sharing cramped conditions isn't good for academic development, Mr McCourt says.
While Auckland is the apparent frontline of the housing crisis for students, Mr McCourt says Wellington and Christchurch are also feeling the heat.
Some students in Wellington are paying around $195 a week for a single room in a three-bedroom home, he says.
He says the Government hasn't done anything to fix the housing problems which have also seen rents rise.