Key Points:

The rental market, particularly in Auckland, could be about to turn.

After years of plentiful supply and tenants being able to pick and choose, some experts are picking a big change.

Auckland has more than 5400 places to rent, web data shows but Robert Mellor, the managing director of consultants BIS Shrapnel, said the city would soon not have enough places to rent. Mr Mellor said the city's population was growing by about 22,000 people a year but only a few thousand consents were being given for new dwellings.

BNZ chief economist Tony Alexander also said rental property was becoming a more attractive investment. Landlords were achieving good rent increases as pressures started to build in parts of the country, he said. "There has been a strong increase in lettings of property in Auckland over the past few months but a rent response has yet to occur," he said. "In the past few years the annual number of dwelling consents in New Zealand has averaged about 24,000. Over the past three months the annualised rate was below 14,000. Where are all those people, who were finding accommodation unaffordable before, going to find places to live?

"One suspects that upward pressure on yields is going to be enhanced fairly soon by increases in rents and we are already receiving some indications of investors increasingly active in the market."

Kieran Trass, author and property advocate of Hybrid Group, has dozens of bookings for next Saturday's seminar aimed for landlords.

He is giving an update on the property cycle, saying which Auckland areas are the best buys, and giving lessons on the slump.

Groups of professional landlords are also hunting for properties, saying they are counter-cyclical investors with large wads of cash ready to take advantage of other people's misfortunes. Bayleys has a website set up to advertise mortgagee sales.

For about a year, rental supply has been increasing because homeowners have chosen not to sell their houses at this end of the cycle. The industry has dubbed them "reluctant landlords".

Barfoot & Thompson's average weekly Auckland rent is $384 but the firm's agents are letting more places.

Director Peter Thompson said: "In January we let 791 houses and units, the highest number we have let in one month for the past seven years."

TO LET

Northland - 414
Auckland - 5426
Waikato - 1157
Bay Of Plenty - 706
Wellington - 1124
Canterbury - 1976
Otago - 644