Dear tenant, We regret to inform you this property has been sold. Please vacate the premises on or before the 21st of April.

Forty-two days. As few as 42 days to find another home if the one you're renting is sold, or the owner (or family member) wants back in.

Accepting periodic tenancy, or "going month-to-month", is courting disaster.

Do you want freedom to move without being locked into a six-month or year-long lease? Brave gamble. Or a foolish one. Or one born of necessity, since many property owners also want the ability to offload homes as the market or circumstances dictate. Why offer a long-term lease when you can time the market (maybe) to reap a tidy sum?


Experts say Tauranga's rental housing shortage is likely to intensify. Scarcity has done more than tipped the scales towards property owners. They bought the scales.

Tenants pay record-breaking rents for homes – some of which are mouldy, leaky, cold in winter and boiling in summer.

I visited enough rentals during four years in Mount Maunganui to view a smorgasbord of splendour and shame: one house had been vacated by a gang of boxing boars. I hoisted my jaw from filthy carpet while gawking at holey walls, dented doors and a smashed oven front.

The property manager told me the owner would prefer to rent to a family, though I wished he or she had figured that out before the last group of mates trashed the place. I later saw it advertised for sale as a "demolish and do-over" bach.

Lucky for us, a friend referred me to her landlord while she was closing on the sale of her first Mount Maunganui home.

It was a quirky, three-storey, multi-flat property across from the beach. Aside from leaks and an erratic electrical system, we loved it. We stayed two years until buying our own home. I still smile remembering family dinners, trips to the park next door and gatherings on the deck.

We were fortunate - we never got the 42-day letter. We had signed a periodic lease. We were, if not in bed with Disaster, at least flirting with him.

An acquaintance recently learned the home she's inhabited for six years in the Mount would no longer be hers. Her landlord has provided a 90-day grace period.

Other friends have faced the same challenge - find a new rental within 42 to 60 days. In one case, the family had lived in the home 11 years. Another tenure lasted six months.

The Bay of Plenty Times last Friday featured a Papamoa mother who was given 42 days to move from the home she had rented for 10 years. She spent six weeks submitting 14 applications before securing a three-bedroom rental for $500 a week.

Upheaval is the fragile thread stitching together the Bay's rental market. Moving is stressful. Moving on command, even more so. Children change schools, ripped from friends and familiar surrounds. They're reminded the place they called home was never really theirs.

Some parents keep the impending shift a secret until they can track down somewhere else to live – sneaking off for muted conversations with a partner or rental agent, stealing time for viewings while the kids are gone.

Thirty-five per cent of New Zealanders rent property. That's up from 26 per cent in 1991.

Home ownership has hit its lowest point in 66 years. Sixty-three per cent of us own homes, down from a high of nearly 74 per cent in 1991. The trend is expected to continue as prices balloon, pushing deposit and mortgage requirements out of reach for many families, including those with two fulltime incomes.

Tauranga has beat Auckland as the country's least affordable city for housing, according to a global study. An entire generation may be locked out of the housing market.

Meanwhile, median weekly rent in the Bay of Plenty has jumped from $340 per week in January 2015 to $450 per week for this January.

Central government has pledged to make rental homes warm, dry and healthy. And its housing minister says a law change is needed to make tenancies more secure, too.

Some experts suggest offering a system matching prospective renters who want long-term leases with rental property owners seeking long-term tenants. How about tax breaks for owners willing to provide tenancy security?

Let the politicians pledge. This much is clear: housing insecurity hurts families. Long-term housing options build community.

People who damage property, skip rent and commit crimes (like smoking or making meth) don't deserve dwellings other locals are queuing for. But law-abiding tenants who pay rent on time merit a shot at stability.