A young professional on a salary of more than $100,000 says it is easier to find a job in Wellington than a flat.

The man - who only wanted to known as Michael - said the rental squeeze in the capital was not only a student problem but impacting young professionals.

January and February are traditionally very busy for house hunters with people looking for a change in the New Year, most rental leases coming up for renewal and students heading back to university.

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Prospective tenants are flocking to house viewings in Wellington to find queues of people and, in some cases, properties already rented.

Michael said he had to be out of his flat by the end of January and his panic levels are in overdrive. Yesterday, there were eight groups at a three-bedroom flat in Petone that was not a great place being rented for $640 a week.

He saw an old-style three-bedroom townhouse at Bowen St in central Thorndon charging $750 a week that had pages of applicants, which he described as a "lucky dip exercise".

"It's getting crazy. You are going to have a whole lot of homeless professionals come the end of January and February," said Michael, who earns a bit over $100,000 at age 32.

"I honestly think getting a good job in Welly is easier than finding a decent place to rent," he said.

Prospective tenants are taking to social media to vent their frustrations with the Wellington rental market.

Charlie Dreaver, married with no children or pets, said she went to a viewing in Wellington at 2pm to find it had been rented at 2.08pm. The previous flat had a queue out the door and several she has RSVPd to the open day had been rented without people viewing them.

"The rental market is beyond broken," she said.

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Ashley Church, property commentator and former chief executive of the Property Institute, said what people are seeing is the inevitable consequences of a sustained Government attack on the rental sector.

He said as the effect of the Government's rental policies kick in you could expect a stagnation in the investment of rental properties.

The Government has made a number of changes to rental laws aimed at giving greater protection and security for tenants, including limiting rent increases to once a year, banning letting fees and changing the rules for evicting tenants.

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi has said the new reforms would make it fairer and more secure for renters while also protecting landlords' interests.

Church said a lot of landlords were reconsidering or getting out of the rental sector at a time when the population was growing.

"We require more rentals and even if the market just stagnates that in itself has an impact on the availability of rentals," he said.

Church said the greatest pressure from population growth was on the Auckland market, saying while new building consents are at record highs most it is for people to live in those properties.

Between 2003 and 2008 there was a big push to encourage people to invest in rental properties or lease properties to Housing New Zealand, which had not happened to anything like the same degree over the past seven or eight years, Church said.

Property commentator Ashley Church. Photo / NZ Herald
Property commentator Ashley Church. Photo / NZ Herald

The rental market is also gripping provincial cities.

The Rotorua rental markets is a "ticking time bomb" and there is an absolute time bomb, real estate agents say.

Simon Anderson, managing director of Realty Group, said there was an "absolute crisis" in Rotorua, citing a lack of any new developments and people outside the region buying houses as factor.

In Tauranga, the average weekly rent has hit $487, increasing the cost of a roof over your head by more than $2000 a year, said CoreLogic senior property economist Kelvin Davidson.

According to Trade Me, the most popular rental property in Tauranga for the year was a three-bedroom Mount Maunganui house on Carter St which had 284 inquiries within two days of being posted.

Papamoa Family Services financial mentor Kathy Young said some of its clients were spending more than 75 per cent of their income on rent and had resorted to living in their cars.

- additional reporting Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post