A young couple have had to pack up and move out of their Wellington flat after being told their weekly rent was being hiked by $165.
Hayley Young, 21, and her partner Sukh Sidhu, 26, were "flabbergasted" when the property manager of the two-bedroom Newtown flat they were living in with two friends, told them the rent would rise from $535 a week to $700 if they renewed the lease.
Young said the maximum occupancy was also to drop from four people to three.
"We were very, very happy to carry on with the lease but the rent just went up astronomically. We just couldn't afford it," said Young who works fulltime as a fresh food supervisor at Countdown.
She said the property manager told her the increase was a result of the rent being aligned with other rentals in Wellington.
"I was really disappointed but also kind of flabbergasted because I had been living in the house and I know that it's not worth $700."
Young said although it was "awesome" living in the Newtown flat, which had a recently-renovated bathroom and kitchen, it had its issues including a damaged fence and it could do with a coat of paint.
The lease on the flat, where the couple lived for about nine months, expired last month. Despite wanting to stay in the house, the price hike meant Young and Sidhu were forced to look for other accommodation.
"We struggled [to find a flat] for a long time because obviously the property market in Wellington is crazy around [the start] of the year with all the students wanting to get into a flat," said Young.
"It was a really stressful time. I spent a lot of my days worrying [that] my lease was going to end and I wasn't going to have anywhere to live."
The couple have since found a flat in Hataitai, which Young said was not as nice as their old flat but very affordable at $500 a week for four people.
Young said she knew a lot of people in Wellington struggling with rising rents.
In January, Wellingtonians faced record-breaking rents, which matched Auckland prices.
Nigel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property, said at the time that rents in Wellington and Auckland reached a median of $550 a week in January, which set a new record for both cities.
He said rental listings in Wellington central were so scarce that people were looking further afield including in Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt.