"Horror and pity" have greeted one renting Auckland couple but they want to change attitudes to tenants, regarded as taking a "second-class" option, being social lepers or failures.
In the book Generation Rent, Rethinking New Zealand's Priorities, husband-and-wife team Shamubeel and Selena Eaqub call for a more accepting attitude to the rising number of tenants as well as changes to New Zealand's construction, housing intensification and tax system.
"The reality is that now and into the future, more Kiwis will rent. Yet renting makes one a social leper, a failure, in the eyes of many. We know this from personal experience," they write.
Shamubeel has been introduced at public events as New Zealand's unofficial poster boy for renting and labelled Mr Rental in the Herald.
"Neither of these labels is necessarily a positive one. The reaction to the choice we have made, as a couple, to rent rather than buy, has generally ranged from horror to pity."
They tackle issues of immigration, building more houses in high-demand areas, changing attitudes towards higher density housing, call for improved data on foreign buyers, want alternatives to housing investment to be far more attractive, seek clarification of existing tax rules on property investment and discuss improving the construction sector's response to high housing demand.
Shamubeel Eaqub is the NZIER's principal economist while Selena is an economic consultant who previously worked at Statistics New Zealand and Goldman Sachs JBWere Asset Management.
Tom Rennie of BWB Texts said the book was one in a series and tackled a highly topical issue.
"Increasing numbers of young New Zealanders rent, rather than own, their homes. In some places house prices are simply too expensive relative to incomes. For this generation of renters, the dream of home ownership is often beyond reach," Rennie says.
"This short book, part of the BWB Texts series, assesses the scale of the problem and what it means for this country's pervasive culture of home ownership. In advocating greater rights and responsibilities for renters, Shamubeel and Selena Eaqub propose rethinking priorities that have guided New Zealand for generations."
The Eaqubs say they are often taken aside by people who want to convince them of home ownership benefits "and we think their feelings of horror and pity about our choice stem from a deep discomfort with someone going against the cultural grain of this country and missing out on what people believe is the best investment to be had".
"Some people also feel the need to 'educate' us on why house prices cannot possibly fall and why we are wrong to rent," they say.
"These people, from our experience, almost inevitably come from the baby boomer generation - those who have benefited the most from the house price super-cycle.
"If we counter with the risks of buying a very expensive house and then seeking a sharp price fall, as happened in places like the US, Canada, Spain and Ireland, their response is simply to say that it will be - must be - different in Auckland."
The Eaqubs wrote that fortunately, they had begun to meet people who had a sense of camaraderie about their shared decision to rent. It is these people they refer to in the book's title and which they say are rising fast in numbers.
"Generation Rent may be united in renting, but most are not doing it by choice - they are forced to rent, forced into what is currently a second-class option, because the New Zealand housing market is so broken."
• Generation Rent, Rethinking New Zealand's Priorities (BWB Texts, to be published on June 6, will be available in print and as an ebook)
Benign NZ rentals
• UK: 200,000 tenants suffered "revenge evictions" in 2013 after complaining of issues.
• Australian major cities: "Not uncommon for people ... to bunk up and share rooms."
• Young people, single parents, older women and the unemployed hit hardest.
• NZ rental market not as broken as in UK or Australia.
• Rents here are lower due to a plentiful rental property supply.
• But NZ renters have poor rental rights.
[Source: Generation Rent by Selena and Shamubeel Eaqub]
Renting advocate will buy
NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub has become New Zealand's best-known advocate of non-home ownership, dubbed Mr Rent.
That is because he believes housing does not stack up financially, with people taking on big mortgages and betting on an already overheated market only heading north.
He has taken the opposite approach so when he and Selena returned to Auckland from Wellington last year, they thought only of renting.
For him, housing is split into two categories — shelter and investment.
"We chose to rent, both for lifestyles and financial reasons," they write in their new book. "We are a young couple with mobile job opportunities, although this will change once we begin a family."
The fact that one day the couple intend to buy their own house might come as a big surprise to many. He told the Herald recently how children change people's lives.
"The first thing is security if you are renting, and stability, and being able to make small alterations. All of those things become more important when you are a family," he said, stressing that renting should be made more secure.
More than half of all Aucklanders over the age of 15 now rent. In the meantime, the Eaqubs are part of what they refer to as the post-1980 born "Generation Rent".