A newly-married couple in search of a rental home to call their own in Tauranga claim they've been overlooked by landlords over fears their native Indian cuisine would leave a lingering smell.
Arun Kaushish, 31, moved from Auckland to the Bay of Plenty city with his wife Poonam Kaushish, 29, in May, but despite applying for more than 30 different places in the past three months they have failed to secure a rental.
The husband, who works as a retail store manager, said friends in the real estate industry claimed the reason could be because some home owners were reluctant to have an Indian family.
"They don't like us cooking curry because the smell is not easy to get out of the house," he said.
"It's really ridiculous."
The couple, who got married in February this year, have been forced to live in a boarding home with another Indian family, but are eager to find a place of their own.
"We have everything a person needs to get a rental ... I have good pay, good reference and good credit ... but we can't get a house at the moment; we are feeling very sad."
Kaushish said together with his wife, they earned about $1300 a week - more than enough to cover the rent of properties they were looking at.
"We are really disappointed; maybe some other Indian families are suffering the same issue."
Kaushish had been told there was a shortage in the Bay of Plenty rental market, but he said it was a similar story in Auckland and he'd always managed to find a place.
Demand for rental properties in the area has been growing. The latest Trade Me Rental Price Index showed a price growth of more than 15 per cent in the past year to a median weekly rent of $410.
A Bay of Plenty real estate agent, who didn't want to be named, backed Kaushish's claims his ethnic fare made it harder for him to find a place.
"Owners of the properties have very strict guidelines on the condition of their house and that's the reason they are trying to avoid people of certain ethnicities."
He said people, of both Indian and other Asian descents had approached him for help looking for a place.
"I've been told many times they would be asked, 'What sort of cooking do you guys do?'"
But the agent said home owners needn't worry, as many families could and would keep the properties clean so the smell didn't stick.
"I'm sure they'll take good care of it, and if not they've paid bond money and they are aware it's a big chunk of money, if they don't keep it in good condition they will lose that money."
The Human Rights Commission [HRC] said it had from time to time received complaints over assumptions a family or person would cook particular food in rental accommodation.
If this led to an inability to rent, the commission said it "could be progressed as a discrimination complaint".
But owner of Tauranga, Omokoroa, Papamoa First National offices, Anton Jones, believed the reason people were being denied was more to do with the limited properties on offer.
Jones himself had found it hard to find a rental, when the family home was undergoing renovations.
Jones said it took three or four applications before he finally managed to secure a rental.
Jones' advice to those looking for a rental was to always be on the lookout, be well presented and have good references.
A Tenancy Services spokesperson said it was unlawful for landlords to refuse a tenancy on the basis of someone's ethnic or national origin.