A Whanganui grandmother says an old dispute over rent is preventing her from finding somewhere to live and she has to cram into a three-bedroomed house with up to 14 other people.

Christine Hopkins is living in a house in Whanganui that her son and daughter-in-law rent. She had to move everyone else she had been living with there too - her husband, their other son and daughter and their kids.

"[I'm] homeless, really. I rented a property for seven years. It got handed to another real estate [company] when it went on the market.

"Next minute I get a letter saying the house has been sold, I [had] 42 days to move."

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She said she contacted the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand but she was told she earned too much money to qualify for support.

The house she was renting got passed from Landlords Link to The Property Place before it was sold earlier this year. The tenancy ended in July .

When it came time for her to leave the house, Hopkins said The Property Place wanted to take $417 out of her bond for rent arrears. The two sides disputed the matter and eventually Hopkins was "partially successful in her claim".

The tribunal found Hopkins had been paying a week in advance on her rent. But, as she stopped paying the last week and a half, the tribunal ordered that rent be taken out of the bond and given to The Property Place.

Hopkins said she contacted Ray White before the tribunal hearing to find out if she had been chosen for a rental she had applied for. She was confident after seeing she was the only person viewing the property.

"I rang up Ray White to see if I got the property and they told me no because of the reference that was given from [The Property Place] that I was taken to the Tenancy Tribunal. So they turned me down on a property because of their reference."

Hopkins was furious. She said she raised the problem at the tribunal.

"In the end the judge looked at [Jennifer Russell] and said: 'It's hard enough in Whanganui to rent a property than it is for somebody given .... a bad reference let alone now she has ... won her case.

"I thought I'd left that behind me ... I could carry on because she [Jennifer Russell] told the judge she would write a letter and let them know that everything, my rent, was up to date and everything like that.

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"She hasn't written a letter," Hopkins said. "I have applied for so many properties.

"I went to a property last week and I thought that I had got that because I was the only one there. I work, my husband works ... we've all got good credit references and we still got denied."

Hopkins said she was normally a shy person but her desperate situation had led her to approach the Whanganui Chronicle.

She said the situation had been stressful and demoralising.

"I don't know ... it made me feel worthless. It made me feel like I failed as a parent, as a grandmother, as a wife ... I cried, two days I cried."

The Property Place's manager, Jennifer Russell, refused to answer questions about the reference letter Hopkins talked about.

After questions from the Chronicle, she said the information was incorrect but wouldn't go into details because of concerns for Hopkins' privacy.

"It's really, really hard to get a property at the moment in Whanganui," Russell said.

"Unfortunately this tenant, she was in this house for about seven years and we looked after it for about the last five or six months and then the property got sold. And that's all I can tell you."