Student tenants have paid thousands of dollars over summer for empty flats and apartments in a bid to secure their accommodation for 2017 as Auckland faces a growing rental shortage.

Occupancy levels reached a record high at Ray White's city branch with tenants continuing to pay rent when they returned home for holidays rather than lose their accommodation.

"A year ago students would end their tenancy in November, go home for the summer and return in February to rent another apartment," Delanie Horrobin of Ray White said.

"Now they are staying on because they are concerned they won't have somewhere to return to."

Delanie Horrobin said there was record occupancy rates in Auckland City. photo / supplied
Delanie Horrobin said there was record occupancy rates in Auckland City. photo / supplied

More than 30 groups filed through a two-bedroom apartment on Kingston Street this week, a number that Horrobin said was becoming more common.

"That is a huge number of viewings but unfortunately it is becoming the norm," Horrobin said.

"Our waitlist is at a record high of 50 and it is going to get worse with February and March our busiest months."

Peter Thompson from Barfoot and Thompson said there was inevitable price increases whenever rental accommodation was in short supply.

He said the start of the year was always more expensive as students scrambled to find accommodation and families settled for the school year.

"January is always busiest for us and the shortage means rent increases," Thompson said.
"Come March the prices should come down."

Figures from Trademe showed the biggest price increases from January 2016 to December 2016 were for apartments which increased from $450 to $480 and larger
homes, popular with students, which increased from $892 to $1097 a week.

In Wellington the Victoria University Student's Association president Rory Lenihan-Ikin said dozens of students had asked for help because of shortages and rent hikes.


"Students are now entering into bidding wars to secure flats, many of which are not in a liveable condition," he said.

"Students are simply desperate to secure something. Landlords and rental agents hold all the power, which is even forcing bidding wars between students."

Lenihan-Ikin said despite the price of rentals going up about 10 per cent in the past year, the quality of housing was still poor.

"2017 will be another year of renters getting sick in cold, mouldy flats that they are paying an arm and a leg for, unless action is taking such as the introduction of a rental WOF."