Rental squeeze puts pressure on tenants

By Laura McLeay

When a letter arrives in the mail notifying you that your current rental house has been put on the market - the response is often one of panic and worry.
It is not always easy to find somewhere else to live with all the uncertainties that go along with it, including when the house will sell.
The Bay News talked to various tenants around Tauranga who rent a house that is on the market. They were all nervous and finding it hard to find a new house when rental prices are rising and the number of houses available is diminishing.
With the tough rental market across New Zealand at the moment, Professional Rentals Tauranga property manager Marie-Clare Jones says, "There is now a severe shortage of rentals because investors have sold their houses and have gone out of the market because it is so bad."
When we looked on Trade Me last week, there were 394 houses to rent in Tauranga and just 136 in the Western Bay of Plenty.
Julie Hobart is renting a house on 18th Ave and was told in January, three weeks after moving in, that it was going to be put on the market, leaving her annoyed and uncertain about the future.
"I would never have moved into the property if I knew it was going to go on the market.
"I do not want to move because it is a good location.
"They reduced the rent from $330 a week to $300 for my three-bedroom home because it was now on sale."
But Julie says it brings many other problems - such as what to do about winter.
The house she is in has a fireplace and if she wants to order cheap firewood she needs to do it soon. But she does not want to order firewood and six weeks later have to move out with wood she may not need.


Another Tauranga resident, Coralee Greaves, has been flatting on Eversham Road, near Bayfair but since the house was put on the market, she and her partner are looking for a place of their own - somewhere slightly rural.
"It is a bit scary that we could have to leave at any time, especially when we are looking for something that could be permanent.
"There is not much out there and it is hard because we still want somewhere nice."
Marie-Clare says owners who are selling give tenants at least 42 days' notice and quite often make the rent 10 or 20 per cent cheaper but "to be told you have six weeks to find a new place can be hard when the competition is high" and houses to rent fill quickly, as they are few and far between.
She says one house she put on Trade Me last week had five people interested within a day.
Last year many houses were being sold and put up for rental, but this year that is not the case.
Marie-Clare says, "People are staying in their properties themselves and not using them as investment properties because the housing market is bad.
"Because the owners are staying put, rents have to go up for a while to meet the supply and demand. This leaves less rentals at a higher price.
"The only benefit in this type of market is that it is great for landlords.
"They are basically having an open home and can choose the cream of the crop to live in their house because so many people apply for each house."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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