For Rotorua woman Jen Garner, the homeless were people who chose to be that way, or had issues that led to them being homeless.

That changed when, amid Rotorua's rising rent prices and lack of rental properties, she had to leave her home last August.

With no place to go, Garner has been sleeping on her daughter's couch for the past five months.

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She says the city's difficult rental situation is one of the factors that has pushed her to move to Australia where she has "opportunities to grow and make something for my children".

"I've been thinking about it for a couple of years but after losing my rental and not being able to find another one, I realised I had to make the move as there's just nothing here for me any more.

"Sleeping on my daughter's couch, I literally live out of a suitcase. It's pretty darn miserable.

"I've had no personal space for months. Everything I own, apart from a few clothes and toiletries, is in storage.

"I have a bed, I just don't have a place to put it in."

Her story comes as the latest Trade Me rental figures for December show the median weekly rent price in Rotorua rose $50 from December 2016 to December 2017.

The median weekly price of one to two bedroom houses was up 13.7 per cent year on year, to $270, while median rent prices for three to four bedroom homes was up 15 per cent to $380 per week.

Last month saw an increase of $7 from the month before.


Garner said she had applied for and viewed hundreds of houses in Rotorua, but many of them were "substandard or in bad areas".

"I have four dependant children so anything that was suitable for us was being rented for $450 to $600. Who can afford that? Then there were other places that I wouldn't even keep my dog in."

She said she had seen the effects of substandard homes on families.

"The kids' ward at the hospital is full of children with respiratory issues - asthma, bronchitis; I know because three of my children were up there every year with bronchitis."

Garner said despite being technically homeless, she was grateful to have a roof over her and her children's heads.

"I never thought anyone like me could be homeless."

Rotorua Rentals owner Richard Evans said December saw a rush of inquiries as people wanted to get into a home before Christmas, but January had been slower.

"In November and December we were getting 50 to 60 emails a day of people looking for a house. Now it's down to about 20 to 25 emails a day.

"A lot of investors are looking at buying in Rotorua, but they want to see what the Government is doing about taxes before they commit. It's all a bit helter skelter at the moment.

"We do have more stock coming on to the market but there is still a lot going out too which is frustrating."

Ray White Rotorua property manager Sandy Jennings said she suspected rental prices would "still go up a bit further yet".

"I feel sorry for people as it is hard at every property level. There are good quality tenants moving to Rotorua, ready for their children to start school, who are struggling to find good quality rentals.

"It's a tough market for rentals. As long as there's a shortage of properties, the price will keep going up."