High rents force families into campground

Up to 20 Bay of Plenty families have been forced into living at a Tauranga campground because rents have soared more than 7 per cent in the past year.

Sanctuary Point in Windermere is one of the few remaining holiday parks in the Western Bay still accepting long-term residents.

Manager Kim Fraser said increasing rents meant demand for long- term accommodation had soared in the past 12 months and that coming to the camp was for many "the end of the line".

The park now had about 100 long-term residents with about 15 to 20 families moving on to the site in the past year. Three families had sold their homes to move there, she said. Ms Fraser said a solo mother with four children lived at the park. When the family first arrived four months ago they lived in a tent, later moved into a caravan, and now live in a cabin.

The cost to live this lifestyle is cheaper than renting with Tauranga's average weekly rental now $300, a Massey University study has revealed.

In February 2007, the average rent in Tauranga was $280. This rose to $295 in November, and rose again last month.

Ms Fraser said the camp used to mainly cater for single people but now couples and families live there.

The camp still has capacity to take more long-term residents but cabins are full and those wanting to stay would need their own caravan.

The situation at Sanctuary Point of Tauranga families wanting to ease their financial hardship is not unique.

Renee Wilson, manager of the Silver Birch Holiday Park and Motel on Turret Rd, said she and her mother Bev "could not count" the amount of families and single people who had asked for long-term accommodation.

"We've received about 10 emails and on average get five to 10 phone calls a day. If we don't get any, we're surprised," she said.

"We have heard there's a shortage of [affordable] rentals and they all ask 'do you know of where I can go'."

Manager of Beachgrove Holiday Park in Mount Maunganui, Danny Fraser-Jones, also said he was receiving a steady increase of inquiries about long-term stay.

Earlier this month the Bay of Plenty Times reported inquiries by Tauranga's low-income families for long-term accommodation were rising - putting pressure on social agencies, who say there aren't enough cheap rentals.

Rob Raven, team leader at the Salvation Army in Tauranga, said there was no emergency housing in the city for struggling families.

There are also 141 families in Tauranga who have been assessed and are eligible for state homes through Housing New Zealand.

All are identified as "priority applicants", but all are on a waiting list.

Professor Bob Hargreaves, of Massey University's economic and finance department, said landlords were feeling the pinch of rises in mortgages, insurance and rates.

"[Landlords] have been arguing for a while they need rental increases," Professor Hargreaves, who completed the rent survey, said.

Another reason for the increase was a reduction in home ownership rates, which meant there were more people wanting to rent.

This year is the 10th year Professor Hargreaves has completed the survey and is the highest he had seen median rents.

Andrew King, vice- president of the New Zealand Property Investors Foundation, said the cost of buying homes, particularly for first-home buyers, was driving the increase in demand for rentals because people were renting for longer while they saved for a deposit.

- BOP Times

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