An 80-year-old Whanganui landlord says regulations for rental properties mean her tenants now live in a better house than she does.

Judy Sainsbury bought a rental property in Whanganui a year ago when a couple she knew had nowhere to live after their previous rental was sold.

"I found it almost impossible to buy a house," Sainsbury said.

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"I kept finding myself on the end of chains of people who had put in conditional offers. I would be third and it often wasn't worth staying in the queue.

"All decent people would expect tenants to have a better standard than is apparent in some of the properties that have been tenanted and are for sale. I bought one of the better ones in quite good condition but it still ended up costing a lot of money to bring it to a standard you would think was acceptable.

"It needed a fair amount of electrical work done which cost $5000. The gas and power had been cut off at some point so I had to get gas and electrical certificates before it could be put back on."

Sainsbury had the house painted inside and, because some rooms needed new carpet, she decided to recarpet the whole house.

"A lot of the things I did to that house were only cosmetic but it still cost a hell of a lot of money. The amount is close to $30,000 at this stage."

Ceiling insulation was put in before the start of the 2018 winter but Sainsbury could not afford to do the underfloor insulation and will do that before next winter.

"The insulation and fire alarms are required to be done under the existing legislation but there will be a higher standard for insulation in the future than what we have put in," Sainsbury said.

"It really isn't fair that you have to bring it up to a higher standard if you have a change of tenants. Landlords who have rotten houses should have to meet a standard but the standards are ridiculous for others.

"I've yet to paint the outside of the house which is at a stage where you could live with it for another year but it really should be painted. The window frames have to be painted this summer.

"I will have spent close to $40,000 by the time I finish and only a tiny amount of it is tax deductible. For anyone who is a small landlord, the costs of some of the things they are suggesting are unreasonable."

Sainsbury said she had "absolutely no intention" of selling the rental property.

"There are probably quite a lot of people who are quite old who have just one rental property. Some of them would be depending on one or two rental properties to eke out their retirement. As you get older, you have less money and in some ways have higher needs.

"I am by no means a poor old pensioner but I've reached the stage where I need to watch every penny. My tenants pay $300 a week and so far I haven't been able to utilise a penny of the rent because it's all gone back into the house."

Sainsbury pays about $5000 a year for insurance on the property and rates to the district and regional councils.

"I agree with the concept of providing decent conditions for tenants but believe that small landlords, without mortgages, such as myself, will drop out if standards are increased much further, and too quickly, particularly if the current taxation rules continue," Sainsbury said.

Landlords Link managing director Tracey Onishenko said some Whanganui landlords were selling their rental properties but it was due to the buoyant market rather than the pressures of regulations.

"They are getting really good prices at the moment," Onishenko said.

"Some of them have been in the game for a long time and it's time to sell. Those owners are really good owners anyway so their houses would be up to standard."

New investors were buying less desirable properties and bringing them up to standard.

"Tenants are getting a lot better quality houses. They are paying more rent but the houses are much better than five years ago."

Onishenko said she had seen an influx of people moving from Auckland and other larger cities to Whanganui and they were snapping up the better, more expensive, rental properties.

"There are only 34 [Whanganui] rentals on Trade Me at the moment but we are picking up more all the time. They are coming and going. We rented about 10 [last] week."