Rents in Tauranga have increased almost 11 per cent in the last year - and have gone up more than $100 per week since 2012.
Trade Me's latest Property Rental Index show the average rental price in Tauranga hit $432.50 in July, up more than $40 on last July's figure of $390. That was an increase of 10.9 per cent.
The Western Bay also rose, going from $350 to $380 year on year, an increase of 8.5 per cent.
Four years ago, the average Tauranga rental price was $330 and the Western Bay's was $275, increases of 31 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.
Gary Prentice of Rentals BOP said more properties had become available in the last couple of weeks.
"The top end of the rental market has definitely slowed up. People just can't afford that sort of money.
"We're finding the people that are buying those sorts of houses have been pushed up there by the sales staff who are saying there's a rental shortage, rents are going up, you will be able to get whatever you want. They're telling Aucklanders they can get Auckland prices - but we're not in Auckland."
Mr Prentice said there was still a shortage in the one and two-bedroom market, and in the medium-priced homes.
"There's a lot of desperate people out there still hunting for the right property - or any property, really."
Ross Stanway, chief executive of Eves and Bayleys Real Estate, said landlords could not ask for whatever rent they wanted, they could only ask a price the market was willing to pay.
He said the level of demand meant some tenants were able to pay higher rent to get the property they needed, even if it was at a price they were not comfortable with. This made it difficult for the lower end of the rental market.
Mr Stanway believed the increase in rents was down to two factors. The first was the increasing demand for rental properties outstripping supply and secondly, increasing house prices meant landlords who had purchased new investment properties needed to charge higher rents.
Head of Trade Me Property, Nigel Jeffries, said there had been a big climb in Tauranga's rental prices in the last year, and in the last four years.
"It's a continuation of that halo effect from Auckland prices skyrocketing. There's more and more Auckland-based browsers looking in Tauranga and the Bay of Plenty to purchase and to rent."
He said some Aucklanders who could not afford an Auckland mortgage were instead buying a home in Waikato or Bay of Plenty and continuing to live in Auckland. They would then either try and find a job in the regions, keep the property as a rental, or sell it for capital gain.
Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said Tauranga's rental market was seasonal and during winter, there had been more properties hitting the market and fewer people looking for homes. However, this was picking up again.
Mr Lusby said it was still hard for people to find a rental. He has had enquiries from people willing to pay $1000 per week for a rental, but could not find them a house.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said people were finding it so hard to pay rent that it was affecting their food purchases.
Mrs Bruin said the number of struggling people was "unprecedented" as prices rose and income and accommodation supplements did not keep up.
Renter finding it tough to get a small home
Gate Pa renter Rose Ellen has until the end of September to find a new house after her current home was sold.
Ms Ellen has found a property in Te Puna, one that is "a lovely, sunny cottage", but it means she has to leave the city - away from bus routes.
This was a problem for a woman who has limited mobility due to serious back problems.
"I couldn't find anything in my price range in Tauranga."
Her move to Te Puna would be temporary until a new home became available - Ms Ellen said someone with her health issues could not live away from public transport.