New figures reveal rents in most Western Bay of Plenty suburbs have increased by as much as 15 per cent but one suburb saw a significant drop.
The average weekly rent in Merivale dropped from $350 to $300 in the past year. It is the only local area to record a significant drop in figures from rental bond data, collected from bonds lodged with the Tenancy Tribunal. Average weekly rents in Brookfield, Gate Pa and Te Puke also dropped slightly.
By comparison, Mount Maunganui and Maungatapu suburbs recorded increases of 15 per cent, bringing the average weekly rent to $511 and $455 respectively.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Diane Bruin said increased rents was "a large part of people seeking help". This included clients who were two-wage income families "as there is no additional increase in wages".
Bruin said rent for all clients increased over the past year and this was a constant concern.
Ōmokoroa, Ōtumoetai, Mount Maunganui, Omanu, Arataki, Maungatapu, Greerton, Judea, and Pongakawa all recorded increases of higher than 5 per cent.
Bruin said people got into debt too easily and then could not pay rent.
"Then it is usually food on the table that is affected."
Tauranga Community Foodbank relief manager Brendon Collins said many people struggled to keep up with spiralling rent costs and there had been an increase in demand on its services.
"The people coming in now, it used to be just very low socio-economic people on benefits but now it's people from everywhere."
Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said the quality of houses in Merivale was not necessarily as good as in some other areas. "The likes of Maungatapu, those owners of rental properties tend to be more affluent and tend to spend the money on those properties for tenants so they ask for a bit more money." Lusby said he often encountered beneficiaries who needed somewhere to rent but baulked at moving to Merivale.
OneRoof editor Owen Vaughan said the Tauranga rents rise was fuelled by rising demand for rental properties on the back of increases in permanent and long-term migration.
"Tauranga has grown in stature and proving to be a magnet for investment and business activity. This, and a surge in first-home buyer activity has put upward pressure on some areas in the rental market," Vaughan said.
"Strong value gains across the city will have also had an influence. Tauranga, like Auckland, is an attractive market for property investors with capital in the bank."
Eves and Bayleys Real Estate (Realty Group) chief executive Simon Anderson said there was a shortage of rental properties on the market despite a continued demand.
"Those who have a good rental don't want to lose it," he said.
To find out how your suburb compares, look online here: https://insights.nzherald.co.nz/article/rental-bonds-2018Q2/.