Wellingtonians facing record-breaking rents, which now match Auckland prices, are looking outside the central city area to Upper and Lower Hutt, Petone and Naenae, according to new data out this morning.
NIgel Jeffries, head of Trade Me Property, said rents in the two cities reached a median of $550/week last month, which set a new record for Wellington as well as Auckland.
But Wellington tenants are under particular stress.
"For the first time, a property in Wellington city will cost you the same to rent as one in Auckland. An example of the demand in January was a three-bedroom property in central Wellington which had 127 enquiries in just 48 hours," he said.
Wellington central rental listings are so scarce that many people are looking further afield.
"Some traditionally quieter areas have taken off. Lower Hutt was the most popular area for Wellington tenants in January, with rental listings receiving an average of 16 inquiries in their first two days on-site. Upper Hutt was a close second with an average of 15 enquiries, whereas demand for rentals in central Wellington was lower with rentals receiving an average of 11 enquiries in the first two days of listing," he said.
Aro Valley and Te Aro - popular with university students - got 16 and 12 enquiries on average in the first two days of a place being listed, while listings in Petone and Naenae had an average of 22 enquiries, he said.
The wider Wellington region's median hit a record $500/week in January, up 4.2 per cent year-on-year. Lower Hutt rents rose 13 per cent in January to an all-time high of $450/week. Upper Hutt rents increased 2 per cent to $400/week, Jeffries said.
Many leases came up for renewal in January so there were 45 more listings of new properties for rent in Wellington then compared to December last year.
Trade Me released information last month showing a 70 per cent drop in the number of Wellington available rental listings in December 2017 compared to December 2016.
Auckland rents also broke a record last month: "The Auckland region's rental market began the year strongly with the median weekly rent hitting another record in January, up 3.8 per cent year-on-year to $540," Jeffries said this morning.
North Shore rents hit a record median $585/week and Franklin rents were a median $500/week last month, he said.
Christchurch rents only rose 0.3 per cent between December and January to a median $400/week. Nelson rents rose 10.8 per cent annually to $410/week.
The Trade Me data comes from an index based on properties rented in the month by managers and private landlords. On average over 11,000 properties are rented each month, the business says.