Would-be tenants seek to live in cars on driveways to beat Auckland rents

By Lincoln Tan

Alban Morin  has placed an ad at the local supermarket looking for "a place with my car in your garden". Photo / Greg Bowker
Alban Morin has placed an ad at the local supermarket looking for "a place with my car in your garden". Photo / Greg Bowker

Auckland's rent crisis is forcing would-be tenants to seek driveways and front yards as dwelling options.

Advertisements are being placed at supermarkets by people wanting to live in cars seeking "driveway and shower" arrangements.

One man put a notice board ad at Pak'n Save Albany seeking "a driveway for a man and his car".

He told the Herald he got the idea after watching the movie The Lady in the Van.

The 2015 British comedy-drama tells of a story of Mary Shepherd, an elderly woman, who lived in a dilapidated van on a driveway of a man's house in London for 15 years.

The unemployed man, who gave his name only as Brendon, said he had been living in his car since June, after he was evicted by his previous landlord for failing to pay rent.

He did not have enough money for a new rental deposit and had a "bad credit rating".

He gets about $300 a week from Winz and was prepared to pay up to $100 if he could use bathroom facilities.

"Such an arrangement means I can still get some basic home comforts like the toilet and warm showers, and the car is the roof over my head," Brendon said.

"Living on a driveway at someone's home is also a far safer alternative than sleeping rough in a public place."

At Long Bay last month, he was robbed while he was sleeping in his Subaru station wagon.

At Countdown Browns Bay, Frenchman Alban Morin also placed an ad looking for "a place with my car in your garden".

"Just need a shower and kitchen," Morin said in the ad.

"Will pay for it any prices (sic) reasonable."

The 25-year-old construction worker wrote that he would sleep in his car.

"Auckland's rent is really expensive and the pay in New Zealand is really low," Morin said.

"With my minimum wage job, I just cannot afford to pay it any longer."

He is paying $230 in weekly rent for a room in the city, but was planning to live in his car once he could find someone's driveway to park in.

University of Otago, Wellington, researcher Dr Kate Amore said the trend was a sign of "how difficult Auckland's market is".

"I have not heard of this happening anywhere else in New Zealand," she said.

"Many now cannot afford the huge cost involved with the rentals particularly when compared with people's incomes."

At least one in 100 New Zealanders were homeless at the last census, and Amore's study found 10 per cent of the homeless population were living in cars, on the street or in other improvised dwellings.

"If you can get a driveway it then becomes a valid option, but it also highlights the urgent need for affordable housing," she said.

"But it is a sad symptom of how bad our housing system is if sleeping in your car on a driveway is considered a good option."

Amore said the housing crisis was likely to deepen if there was no government action to develop a comprehensive housing strategy.

- NZ Herald

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