Market tough for renters

By Mikaela Collins

4 comments
WAITING: Kristie Lowe, single mother of 2-year-old Riley Ferguson, has struggled to find a rental because of high demand for rentals and an increase in rent prices. PHOTO/JOHN STONE
WAITING: Kristie Lowe, single mother of 2-year-old Riley Ferguson, has struggled to find a rental because of high demand for rentals and an increase in rent prices. PHOTO/JOHN STONE

A Whangarei mother has "given up hope" searching for a rental because of high demand and a spike which has seen the average rent increase by about $30 per week over the past six months.

Kristie Lowe has been trying to find a rental closer to her family in Ruakaka so she is able to work full time. But an increase in rent prices has made the hunt difficult.

"It's a pretty crap situation. If you apply for a house you can't get one simply because you're like me and have a bad credit rating, or you're a single mum on the benefit," she said.

"I've given up hope."

Renee Wilkinson, new business consultant at Harcourts Just Rentals Whangarei, has been tracking the rent increase since January this year by going on Trade Me, adding rental prices of properties listed in Whangarei together and dividing that number by the number of houses listed. In January the average rent was $338.33 and up to the end of this week it was $368.20.

"In six months, that's quite a large increase," she said.

Ms Wilkinson said there were a number of things contributing to the price increase - including homeowners who had become "accidental" landlords after the market crashed in 2007 and have decided to sell and take advantage of the today's housing market.

"Basically houses are being sold but there aren't enough to go around. Based on what I've noticed, I can't see it [the rent increase] is going to stop any time soon."

Ms Lowe said her bad credit rating was from when she was young but in the four years she has been renting she had always paid rent on time. She said the only reason she was able to find the place she was currently renting was because she had stayed with the same property managers.

She said she was unable to work fulltime while living in town because there was no one who would be able to care for her son while she worked, or pick him up from daycare if there were any issues.

"I've applied for four [rentals] over the last year, two recently. One I applied for and the lady rang me and said 'Thank you for viewing the house but you did not get accepted', but I hadn't been to the viewing because I didn't know about it. Now they are fussy about who they want."

Ms Wilkinson said based on bonds lodged to the tenancy tribunal, in 2013 the average rent for a two-bedroom was $240, the average now is $290. When Ms Lowe first started renting, a two-bedroom unit was about $210pw.

"I'm always on Trade Me and my parents are too in case I miss anything. I know about six or seven people who are in the same situation as me."

Ms Lowe said she had been to Housing New Zealand and was currently on a waiting list.

- Northern Advocate

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