Landlords are getting pickier about who they want living in their rental properties. Pets are already banned by many. But now they have their sights set on another demographic. Carmen Hall investigates.
''Kids are the new pets'' that some landlords don't want living in their properties, a Tauranga rental agency owner says.
The revelation has added fuel to the fire for two mothers who feel families with children are being discriminated against.
One has an autistic child and had applied for 50 homes in the past two months, before securing one through a friend of a friend.
The mothers believed some ''not suitable for families'' advertisements were biased and used to disguise the fact landlords simply did not want kids living on their properties.
Dan Lusby, of Tauranga Rentals, said he had spoken to 10 landlords in the past week who did not want young children in their houses.
''They all said they wanted a professional couple with no kids with three people at the most living in the house - due to wear and tear. But in reality, there are only so many professional people out there.
''Young kids are the new pets,'' he said, and some landlords were not prepared to take them on.
''They think the young kids will damage the property. But there are more young families around than any other demographic.''
With a tight rental market in Tauranga where demand outstripped supply, landlords had their pick of tenants and were likely to choose couples, working people or families with older children.
''They will win out over the young families ... it is sad.''
Rhiannon Woest said if it was not for a friend of a friend offering them another house, her family could be homeless or living in a garage.
She said they had to look for a new rental after their landlord hiked their current rent by $50 a week.
Woest was self-employed, her husband Gustav worked full time and she said they had excellent references.
Their children Yuna, 12, and Kvan, 9, were at school.
She said they applied for about 50 homes with no success.
Woest said she viewed about five properties but as soon as the rental agent or landlord saw her autistic son or she mentioned him ''it was like no more Mr Nice Guy''.
In her view it was discrimination - ''but I can't prove it''.
She shared her plight with the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend because ''I don't think it's fair when families are the ones who need of a safe home most''.
''Landlords need to have a bit of a heart and they have got to expect some wear and tear because it is a rental property.''
They will move into their home in the next few weeks and were extremely grateful.
Tauranga Property Investors Association president Juli Tolley said if landlords did not want children there were normally sound reasons.
These could include open shared driveways, steep drop-offs, other health and safety hazards, apartments with rules around the ages of children or existing tenants who may be quiet or retired.
"It should always be stated upfront though as good practice if children are not suitable for the living space so that families do not waste their attending showings or applying for properties that do not meet their needs of allowing children.''
But Tolley said she was ''sure there are landlords out there that have preconceived ideas about the damage children can do to a property, so there may be cases where this is true''.
Rentals BOP owner Gary Prentice said the ideal tenant was a working couple and ''any landlord's wish''.
''I don't think there is a precedent for no kids, however. They need a good rental background but it has to stand up. If there is a young family out there that aren't working or have no rental background and have criminal convictions or whatever obviously that is not going to go well for them.''
''Every case has to be put up one against the other really.''
New mum Melissa Cox said even though she and her husband were employed, she worried if they had to leave their current rented apartment they would be forced out of the city.
''We have an excellent track record and my child will be been taught the difference between right from wrong and taking care of the property. But just because we have a kid we could be immediately disqualified. That is my biggest concern.
''Frankly, it's not about me, it's about my friends who have kids in Tauranga and people I don't know who have kids. They are perfect for tenancy yet they are being overlooked and not considered.''
She said it was hard to prove when a landlord had their ideal tenant in mind.
''They don't advertise for no children but secretly they are thinking 'I just want single professional people' and they get hundreds of applications.''
Office of the Privacy Commissioner senior communications adviser Charles Mabbett said the office had received 20 to 30 complaints from tenants about landlords in the past two years from the Bay of Plenty.
''The Human Rights Act states it is unlawful to discriminate on the basis of family status – including having or not having responsibility for children.''