Carmen is a social issues and rural reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times

Renters face tough times with prices up 8 per cent

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The average rent in the Bay has soared by more than 8 per cent over the past 12 months and industry leaders say it has been created by "the perfect storm" as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Rentals BOP owner Gary Prentice had been involved with the industry for 26 years and said it was the worst he had seen the market as rentals dried up.

The company had two rental properties available at the moment and during December it had none, he said.

Gary Prentice, Rentals BOP owner. Photo/file
Gary Prentice, Rentals BOP owner. Photo/file

"It has gone on for months running at two or three properties available at a time which was previously 15 to 20 properties."

The company's average rents had increased by $20 to $30 per week and a nice three bedroom home could now fetch upwards of $440, he said.

Demand for rentals was also crazy and he could not even find a house for ideal tenants with brilliant references because "there is nothing there", he said.

Added pressure was the fact some investors had decided to take advantage of the heated property market and "cash up", he said.

Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said he had been in the industry for 22 years and hadn't seen anything like it.

"It's been like a perfect storm - way too many applications and not enough properties available."

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He said staff would have to inform a couple of tenants their rents would go up by $55 and $70 consecutively as the properties had changed hands and were now under its management.

The price hike was directed by the owners and "that is really hard but the reality of the market".

It's been like a perfect storm - way too many applications and not enough properties available.
Dan Lusby, Tauranga Rentals owner

The company had five properties for rent on its board and, on average, it rented 30 a month but they were being snapped up within a week, he said.

Mr Lusby said landlords were deciding to sell continuously.

"We have more trouble trying to fill our barrel up ... it's dribbling out of the bottom all of the time."

You could expect to pay up to $500 for a four bedroom home in Tauranga, he said.

Dan Lusby owner of Tauranga Rentals. Photo/file
Dan Lusby owner of Tauranga Rentals. Photo/file

Tauranga property investor Lindsay Richards said he had 12 rentals in the area but because of the Auckland presence the return on investment was less viable.

"With the present house prices it is harder to get a good cash return but in time inflation will make the numbers work. The secret is to hang on to the property."

Mr Richards said he purchased two rentals in Te Puke last year but now the town was on everyone's radar.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Briun said rises in rent would affect household budgets and even wage earners may struggle to cope with big increases.

Data from Trade Me showed the median rent in the Bay of Plenty jumped 8.8 per cent to December 2015.

Head of Trade Me Property Nigel Jeffries said there was definitely strong growth in the Bay of Plenty region.

Region wide, median rents were currently "stalled" at $370 but had hit $400 at one stage.

"In the past year, it's added $1500 to the annual cost of renting," he said.

Mr Jeffries said the Bay was one of the "hotter" regions in the country.

The rental stock had not changed dramatically, but tenants had, he said.

"It's part of the halo effect we're seeing of people looking at accommodation options other than Auckland."

Tauranga would have a significant population change in coming years and the council was preparing the city for that, he said.

"It's got a lot of things going for it."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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