Holiday homes and bach rentals are several of the reasons for empty 'ghost houses' in Rotorua, say local rental and property managers.

As of the Census 2013- the most recent figures available - there were 2397 'empty' homes in Rotorua from a total of 27,633 dwellings.

A dwelling was classified as 'empty' if it clearly had no current occupants and new occupants were not expected to move in on, or before, census night.

Houses being repaired or renovated, and unoccupied baches or holiday homes were also considered empty according to Statistics New Zealand.

Advertisement

So-called 'ghost houses' have prompted concern in Auckland in recent months, with speculation they were being left empty by investors, adding to the city's housing crisis.

In Rotorua, some the Rotorua Daily Post spoke to said the figures were hard to believe or were outdated.

However, one rental agency director said with such demand for houses in Rotorua none at all should be empty.

"One empty house is one too many."

Richard Evans, director of Rotorua Rentals, said holiday homes and renovation were potential reasons for houses being empty in Rotorua, but there needed to be more analysis of the figures to see why these homes were empty.

Mr Evans also said there would also be uninhabitable houses from issues such as vandalism or fire.

He said it was hard to know what to do with empty houses in Rotorua, especially considering the number of people wanting rental accommodation and the problem of homelessness. The need for housing in Rotorua was huge, said Mr Evans.

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said she believed the figures of the number of empty homes were probably outdated.

She said there was a growing need for more houses, which was behind her re-election promises of five new subdivisions which would add an extra 1000 sections to the market.

She said the various developments were all at different stages in the consenting process.
Mrs Chadwick said homes were moving rapidly on the market, people were struggling to find rentals and a key was unlocking more land for subdivisons.

Steve Lovegrove, business owner and principal of McDowell Real Estate Professionals Rotorua, also found it hard to believe the figures.

"Empty houses is not something we normally see."

He said his team had not seen any evidence of foreign buyers land-banking houses as seen in the Auckland property market.

Rotorua Property Investors Association president, Debbie Van den Broek, said she was unable to comment on why the houses would be empty.

Mrs Van den Broek said as Tikitere and Tarawera had the highest number of empty homes the majority would be holiday homes or those rented out through agencies such as Book a Bach.

Ross Stanway, chief executive of Reality Services Limited, said it was the commercial reality that many of the 'empty' homes would most likely be those bought for recreational purposes.

Mr Stanway said Rotorua was increasingly becoming a holiday destination. The increase of people moving to the Rotorua region also meant landlords had a wider choice in tenants and could afford to be picky, he said.