Exodus of kiwifruit workers leaves BoP houses vacant

By Joseph Aldridge of the Bay of Plenty Times -
File photo / APN
File photo / APN

An exodus of kiwifruit workers fleeing Psa-ravaged orchards has seen the Western Bay of Plenty's rental property market swell, particularly in Te Puke.

According to Trade Me, available rentals in the Western Bay of Plenty (excluding Tauranga) from July to September were 30 per cent higher than during the same period last year.

The average rent of $403 was 11 per cent lower than a year before because of the increase in supply, the Trade Me figures showed.

The first two quarters of the year showed similar patterns as the third quarter.

Chris Campny, owner of The Rental Managers in Te Puke, said he had not seen a price drop in rental prices, but had definitely noticed the increase in listings.

The crippling effect of Psa on the kiwifruit industry had caused a lot of people to leave the area, putting their homes on the rental market as they went, he said.

"I've picked up quite a few jobs from people who throw their keys to me and say 'we're off to Australia, look after my house'."

Mr Campny said he had listed five such properties in the past six weeks.

"That would be the main reason why there's more rentals being made available."

Although people involved in the kiwifruit industry were leaving the area, others were coming in, meaning demand for rental properties hadn't dropped off too much.

Mr Campny said he had noticed people from Papamoa moving into nice houses in good Te Puke suburbs and enjoying the cheaper rent.

He had also noticed couples renting houses in Pukehina or Te Puke as a halfway point between their places of work in Tauranga, Rotorua or Whakatane.

In Tauranga, the number of rental properties listed on Trade Me during the third quarter of the year rose 8 per cent (compared with the same time last year), and the average rent of $347 did not change at all.

Property manager Jenna Shore, of Professionals Tauranga, said the demand for rental houses in Tauranga had cooled down on previous years.

"We're just finding that people aren't moving around so much, they're tending to stay put. We have noticed our tenants are staying longer.

"There's not enough demand and wages aren't great in Tauranga so landlords, if they've got a good tenant, they're tending to keep the rent at a level so as to keep the tenant."

However with summer coming, property managers expected to see more movement and greater demand, especially in the seaside suburbs.

"There's more people in the area over summer and it probably increases the rental prices," Sharyn Woollett from Ray White Mt Maunganui said.

"It's been a lot easier to rent properties in Papamoa East since the new schools opened there. Eighteen months ago Papamoa East would stick a little bit but not now."

Ms Woollett said her office currently had more applicants than it did rental properties.

Prime Rentals managing director Steve Warburton said good rental properties at the Mount over summer were "slim pickings".

"During the summer everyone wants to live at the Mount."

The supply and demand factor was at a good level and this was displayed by steady prices, Mr Warburton said.

He had noticed tenants had quite rigid price limitations and were unlikely to accept higher rents.

"We're finding it harder this year, letting properties, than previous years because tenants have higher expectations of what they want."

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