Why an Auckland landlord is renting her properties for $1 a week

A Kiwi landlord offering her properties free of charge to those struggling in the COVID-19 pandemic is challenging other landlords to do the same. 

Angela Olsen has stepped in to help New Zealand's most vulnerable by listing her two Auckland properties for just $1 a week. The houses will serve as emergency housing for displaced people throughout the lockdown period. 

"I did it on a whim really," she told Newshub. 

Olsen's previous tenant in her five-bedroom property in West Harbour had left without notice the morning of the lockdown.

After contacting WINZ and Immigration New Zealand to see if they could use the property and getting nowhere, Olsen took matters into her own hands.

"It seemed a ridiculous waste having it empty and I had nothing to lose, so I listed it," she said.

"I was immediately flooded with requests and some of the stories were so sad."

The West Harbour home has now been rented to a seven-person family for the duration of the lockdown. 

Olsen told Newshub the demand for housing from tourists and returning Kiwis has been staggering. 

"It's a wash of humans who are displaced - it's so grossly unfair. They had plans in place, they didn't ask for this. They just happened to be on holiday at the wrong time."

The need was so great Olsen has now listed a second property - a two-bedroom, fully accessible Riverhead home, available throughout the lockdown for nothing.

She says she doesn't understand why no one else appears to be offering up their properties.

"I was in real estate for 20 years before I went into the wheelchair," she said.

"I know landlords, property managers who will have empty homes and show homes that they can't use. So why aren't they doing what I'm doing?"

She's also offering to "have a chat" with landlords threatening tenants with eviction, saying people are contacting her desperate for housing due to being kicked out.

"They can't do that, so I say 'hell yeah give me their number, and I'll have a chat with them', and tell them what the law is."

Olsen says while she doesn't think landlords have a responsibility to accommodate the vulnerable, they should be doing it anyway. 

"I think it's a humanitarian response - to look in the mirror and say 'I can help here, so why am I not doing it?'"