Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

'Outrageous' rental market forces families to live in bush

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Kellie Kioa, Te Tawharau o te Ora manager.
Kellie Kioa, Te Tawharau o te Ora manager.

Western Bay rental prices are continuing to skyrocket forcing some families out of town while others are being forced to live in the bush, social services say.

Trade Me's latest rental figures show the median rental price in Tauranga has risen $50 a week from $375 in January, 2015, to $425 in January this year. The Western Bay of Plenty has risen $80 a week from $260 to $340 in the same period.

Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust Social Services director Tommy Wilson said rental prices at the moment were outrageous.

These people are just looking for a life-line - unfortunately they end up at our door step and we are running out of life-lines too.
Tommy Wilson

Mr Wilson there were many tiers to the rental problem with those at the bottom of the ladder suffering the worst.

"These people are just looking for a life-line - unfortunately they end up at our door step and we are running out of life-lines too."

Mr Wilson said there was a real need for more emergency housing. He knew of families who were moving further and further out of town or even living in the bush.

"I know 10 or 15 families doing that, moving sheds and caravans out into the bush on Maori owned land, living there really basically. They don't have an option and we will see more of it," Mr Wilson said.

Read more: Dog owner may have to leave to find suitable rental home
'The poor looking after the poor'

Kellie Kioa, founder of Te Tawharau o te Ora, a not-for-profit advocacy organisation aimed at providing families facing a housing crisis, said the rental issue was incredibly frustrating for the families.

"Their incomes are obviously not rising. People are getting to a point where they can't afford it. I am getting calls non-stop, emails and messages on Facebook from people who are in desperate situations. I had five today. Yesterday I had seven. On average I would get three or four inquiries a day. People are so desperate."

A Bayfair Estate renter, who did not want to be named, was currently paying $435 a week in rent for a three-bedroom home. When she first moved in five years ago it was $390.

"I moved from a house that was $420 because I couldn't afford that. I thought $390 would be better, now I am back worse than I was before.

The woman shares the house with her three children. To help pay the rent she was considering getting a flatmate but that would mean giving up her own bedroom.

"It's pathetic, wages are not going up. I'm being told to share with someone but I have kids. We are not living in a third world country, we should all be allowed our own bedrooms."

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service co-ordinator Diane Bruin advised renters to make sure they did not over commit themselves with additional borrowing when renting.

"Check your monthly bank statements and analyse what you are spending your household income on. Develop your priorities into needs and wants."

Mrs Bruin said she had clients who had been forced to move to cheaper accommodation in Katikati or Te Puke.

There will be a point where the rents will peak but I am not sure if we are there yet.
Stuart Crosby, Tauranga mayor

Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby said there was a connection between increases in the rental market and house values.

There was also a supply and demand issue.

"Tauranga rentals will always be higher than the balance of the region due to higher average house prices and higher demand.

"Further increases will depend on where house prices go and the supply of rentals. There will be a point where the rents will peak but I am not sure if we are there yet."

Mr Crosby said, as someone who rented himself, the key was to look after the home you rented and build a good relationship with the landlord.

Dan Lusby, owner of Tauranga Rentals, said rental prices would continue to rise in the future.

There was a short supply and big demand for rental properties in Tauranga, he said.

"On TradeMe there was about 215 properties available, it was hanging around 160 to 170, so we are getting new properties coming on board but we get 20 or 30 applications with each one."

Median weekly rent:

Bay Of Plenty: Jan 2015: $340, Dec 2015: $370, Jan 2016: $395
Rotorua: Jan 2015: $270, Dec 2015: $295, Jan 2016: $280
Tauranga: Jan 2015: $375, Dec 2015: $400, Jan 2016: $425
Western Bay Of Plenty: Jan 2015: $260, Dec 2015: $350, Jan 2016: $340
Whakatane: Jan 2015: $300, Dec 2015: $295, Jan 2016: $310

- Bay of Plenty Times

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