An influx of tenants moving into the city for work or study is expected to cause more stress in Auckland's rental market.
Mangere Budgeting Services chief executive Darryl Evans said the year had barely got under way and there were already signs families were struggling to pay higher rents.
"I've already seen three families where the landlords have already told them the rent is going to be increased."
Mr Evans said some were choosing to relocate to more rural areas such as Pokeno, Mercer and Ngaruawahia in the hopes of cheaper rent.
The Auckland Property Investors' Association Incorporated (Apia) said higher rents were likely, as this month's expected influx of tenants coming to the city for new jobs, or a new year of study, pushed up demand.
It said landlords were also being forced to increase rents to cover mortgage repayments, higher council rates and the other costs that came with owning a house.
Vice-president Peter Lewis said it certainly wasn't about raking in profits as those with a "fairly ordinary, stand-alone house" spent around $4000 to $5000 a year in costs.
"The value of assets of a rental property is not as high as tenants think," he said. "The first $80 to $100 of rent tenants pay each week goes straight back out again from the landlords' pocket to meet these costs."
Mr Lewis said it was simply good business sense for landlords to review and even raise their rent if necessary.
"As a landlord you need to ask, 'Am I a social worker? Or am I in to make a dollar?'"
Head of Trade Me property, Nigel Jeffries, said landlords weren't necessarily doing anything untoward by putting up their rents.
"It's being driven largely by supply and demand."
He said new landlords in particular were taking on a fair amount of risk buying into the market.
However, Mr Evans was disappointed to see landlords passing these costs on to the tenants.
"Where renting used to be a viable option, now many are hanging on by their fingernails."
The NZ Union of Students' Association national president, Rory McCourt, said the market was already "unaffordable" for students.
He said students could borrow a loan of up to $176 a week for living costs, but the average student was paying $220 a week in rent.
Mr McCourt said to make ends meet more students were taking up private loans, taking on part-time or even full-time jobs, living further away from the CBD or simply choosing to stay at home. "It's extremely frustrating for students; it's a very hard market to get into."
Under the Residential Tenancies Act Mr Lewis said there were no limitations on how much a landlord could put the rent up, but he said if it was excessive tenants could put in a complaint to the tenancy tribunal.
Landlords looking to increase rent were also required to give tenants 60 days notice. Barfoot and Thompson director Kiri Barfoot said rents did tend to go up this time of year. According to the agency's November rental market report the average price for a three-bedroom rental in the wider city was $503, but in the central city suburbs this was $571, or $835 in the city centre.
Ms Barfoot urged tenants looking for a rental to turn up to appointments looking their best.
"Turn up on time, or even early, bring the best references, turn up in a clean car, bring your proof of income ... if you have a pet, bring the dog along ... or bring a photo of the cat."
In turn, her advice for landlords hoping to secure the best tenant was to make sure their property was in a similarly good condition. "Tenants will be likely to stay longer."
- Additional reporting Newstalk ZB