Landlords say two in every 100 tenants have stopped paying rent and 6 per cent have simply left their properties.

That's according to a survey of 621 rental property owners and managers by the NZ Property Investors' Federation.

The survey respondents collectively managed 6056 rental properties.

Federation executive officer Sharon Cullwick said her team would conduct a similar survey each week and she expected the financial pain for landlords and tenants to get worse.


"I know for example I have had one of my tenants contact me yesterday about having a rent reduction - so I think it will definitely get worse," she said.

According to the NZPIF figures, the problem was not yet widespread, with 81 one per cent of tenancies remaining unchanged.

However - in addition to the 6 per cent of tenants leaving their rentals and 2 per cent who stopped paying rent - landlords had also reduced rents for a further 5 per cent of tenancies and deferred payments on another 1.5 per cent.

Among landlords who lowered rents, the average reduction was 43 per cent or $210 per week.

Most pundits now expected these figures to become considerably bleaker as at least three more weeks of coronavirus lockdown lie ahead and businesses flag upcoming job losses.

Independent think tank The New Zealand Initiative pointed to recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development research tipping New Zealand's gross domestic product could drop by about $24 billion in real income or $10,000 per household in the June quarter.

Minister of Finance Grant Robertson also earlier told Parliament's Epidemic Response Committee that economists estimated unemployment could climb to 8-30 per cent. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website


Former NZ Treasury director and NZ Initiative Bryce Wilkinson said that, by comparison, the country's highest jobless rate since the 1930s was 11 per cent in 1991.

NZPIF's Cullwick urged tenants having trouble paying rent to talk to landlords about a solution because investment property owners were also having financial issues.

The federation's survey found 41 per cent of landlords had not lost any personal income from their regular jobs, contracts or businesses.

However, 59 per cent had lost all or some of their regular income.

Of those landlords affected, 47 per cent had lost some income, 33 per cent had lost all income but received some government assistance, while 21 per cent had lost all income and not received any assistance.

While most respondents were financially secure for the moment, 21 per cent would need assistance if the lockdown continued for more than a month and 5 per cent needed assistance now, Cullwick said.