A Bay of Plenty rental agency is "drowning in applications" and a new university bringing a fresh influx of students mean Tauranga is feeling a squeeze on rental properties.

The new University of Waikato campus on Durham St is set to be blessed at a karakia ceremony this morning.

However, enrolments are already about 250 people higher than the start of last year and students were struggling to find a place to live.

Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said he was "drowning in applications" and had no idea how new students coming to the city would find accommodation.

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There was only so much housing to go around and the next dilemma the city would face was students in desperate need of rentals, he said.

It had become so bad, people had come in for "crying sessions" desperate for housing but waiting lists for rentals were only getting longer, Lusby said.

Tauranga Rentals normally had about 20 to 30 rental properties available but yesterday, they had just four.

Trade Me yesterdayshowed 196 available rental properties in Tauranga, yet Lusby said monthly demand usually sat above 350.

"I can't see the problem getting any better."

The University of Waikato leased two apartment blocks towards the end of last year to help accommodate the influx of students expected when the new Tauranga campus opens. The first students will begin classes on Monday.

The Durham Mews Apartments on Durham St and the Mayfair Court Apartments off 15th Ave were designed to accommodate 55 students in the next two years.

University spokeswoman Eileen Cameron said as of Monday, enrolments stood at 950 individual students and were likely to continue growing.

There was still some accommodation available in the university's apartments.

Figures from Trade Me revealed Tauranga was the third-most expensive city in the country for rentals, with median rent at $500 per week in January.

This is a jump of 43 per cent in five years, from just $350 in January 2014.

CoreLogic analysts said there was no clear solution in sight, with population growth and a housing shortage to blame for high rents.

Kellee Fisher and Josh Murdoch have found securing a flat in Tauranga extremely difficult. Photo / George Novak
Kellee Fisher and Josh Murdoch have found securing a flat in Tauranga extremely difficult. Photo / George Novak

Recent graduates Kellee Fisher and her partner Josh Murdoch secured employment at the Essential Wellness Hub in Pāpāmoa, but have had a nightmare trying to find a rental property.

Both Fisher and Murdoch are currently commuting from Rotorua, where Fisher's family lives, after several viewings and a number of rental applications failed.

Local students Kennedy Green and Tearoa Smith-Lawson said they have been looking for a flat in Tauranga for over four months and have been to more than 15 house viewings.

Green said because of their ages they often did not get given the time of day.

"Most of the landlords want small families or professional couples, I understand why they want them, but it makes it hard for students looking to flat in Tauranga," said Smith-Lawson.

Waikato Students' Union president Nathan Rehui was still on the hunt for a rental, despite spending weeks looking.

He had initially hoped to get a two-bedroom flat with a mate but found it too expensive so had now banded together with three friends to look for a four-bedroom home.

Students struggling to find rentals had now become one of the major jobs the union's advocacy unit spent its time dealing with, he said.

One Roof editor Owen Vaughan said with house prices as high as they were in Tauranga, many investors no longer saw Tauranga as a good rental city and rental stock has dropped.

He said the expected loss of tax breaks for landlords has caused owners to sell off their rental properties or simply increase rent to offset the extra cost.

The new university could possibly bring in new investor interest with the influx of students looking for housing, Vaughan said.

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However, lack of affordability may mean landlords end up failing to get worthwhile returns, he said.

In the short term, massive pressure was likely to remain in the Tauranga rental market and investors would charge a "premium" for rental properties because they could, Vaughan said.

The first classes for the new university start on Monday.