A shortage of rental housing in Hamilton is affecting the ability of Waikato Women's Refuge to continue helping victims of family violence.
Waikato Women's Refuge Co-Founder and CEO Ruahine Albert says the impact of a tight rental market in Hamilton is now being felt.
Ms Albert says so many people are trying to rent houses in Hamilton that women and children who are ready to move on from the refuge safe houses and set up home are unable to do so. She estimates it's affecting at least 12-15 families every quarter who cannot move on from the safe houses.
"This, in turn, means we are overflowing in our safe houses and that puts us at risk of not being able to help everyone who comes to us seeking support and safety."
Lodge Real Estate Managing Director Jeremy O'Rourke says Hamilton is in the grip of a rental shortage in all areas of the city.
"We manage a large portion of the rental properties in Hamilton and currently have a vacancy rate of under one per cent. At the moment, we only have 32 empty properties. Twelve are one-bedroom units, so they wouldn't be suitable for a family, while another dozen or so are higher-end properties. That means affordable rentals are as scarce as hen's teeth," says Mr O'Rourke.
The shortage is due in large part to new loan-to-value ratio (LVR) restrictions which came into force for property investors last year.
"The Reserve Bank put the LVR restrictions in place late last year as a measure to slow the market. The shortage of affordable rentals and lack of new stock coming on the market is an unfortunate and unintended consequence of these measures," he says.
Ms Albert is urging rental owners to consider how they could help local families wanting a fresh start.
"There might be landlords out there with several properties who would be prepared to set aside one or two to rent to these families getting back on their feet," she says.
To help the Waikato Women's Refuge, phone 07 855 1569.