There's only two days left for Sally Johnson and her two older sons to find a new home in Tokoroa - or they could be sleeping on the street.

"We just need someone to help us with a house," Ms Johnson said. "We're not asking for a mansion, we're not asking for a ten bedroom house. We're just asking for something simple, plain that we can live in and that my grandchildren can come to."

Like many others in the South Waikato town, Ms Johnson is a victim of the housing and rental shortage across the country as Aucklanders migrate to areas offering more affordable homes.

Salvation Army Lieutenant, Steve Molen often sees people in overcrowded homes.


"We had a family the other day and there's like ten to twelve people living there, in a three bedroom," he said. "People are getting quite creative in the fact that they might put a caravan, a rent-a-room, or a tent on their property. So people are coming up with all sorts of ideas, or garages because they can't get a house."

Ms Johnson has lived in her current house for fifteen months, but with no job and living on a benefit, she admitted she hasn't always been the perfect tenant.

"We don't wreck houses, we just defaulted on the rent. I know that sucks for a landlord, for an owner. [It's] no excuse but we've always tried to pay arrears and we do."

Local real estate agent, Jenny Lamberton says there are more than 100 people on their rental property waiting lists.

"We always used to have anywhere from about ten properties to rent. As a whole Tokoroa would have a lot of properties to rent. What's changed is that there are not so many properties selling to investors now. There's a lot more owner-occupiers coming to the town and it's taking rental properties out of the market."

Mrs Lamberton points out that rental references will help tenants in their applications - and while there are often genuine reasons why people may not have a clean record - it's the landlords who have the final say.

"When you've got a line of tenants that the owner can choose from... obviously they're going to choose the cleanest tenant with the best possible credit history and the best rental histories."

With their rental recently sold to new owners, the Johnsons have to move out on Friday. They've already been given an extra fortnight to find somewhere to live, but they've had no luck so are resorting to social media to find a home.

"I just want a second chance... and I promise that we will pay the rent and look after it."

Ms Johnson hopes arranging to pay rent directly from her Work and Income benefit, will help. And her two grown sons are willing to provide free labour.

"If they supply the gear, I'll paint for free," her eldest son, Jordan Arthur said.

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