Property experts warn that rising rents, and looming changes to New Zealand's Residential Tenancy Act, will make things even tougher for prospective tenants amid a rental shortage in Tauranga.
One would-be renter has faced a two-year battle to find a home in the city while others have given up trying to find affordable accommodation in the city and are choosing to live outside the area and commute.
At 20 years old, Cullen Watts is keen to move out of home and embark on a life with just her and her partner. The trouble is, she can't.
Watts and her partner, Muhammed Talib, have been looking for a rental in Tauranga for two years ", but nobody will give us a go".
Watts said they were clean, tidy, with "awesome references" and both working full-time but were still unable to find somewhere they could afford.
"I feel like it's our age. People probably think 'oh, they're young, they're probably immature', but you never know if you don't give it a shot. That's all we ask for."
Watts, who works in retail, is currently living with her mother, two sisters and two aunts.
"I'm at that age where I need to get out on my own. We've been to so many viewings but always miss out, usually to real professional couples."
Watts said the rentals she and her partner have looked at include a two-bedroom place for $450 a week which was "too expensive". Another single-bedroom flat was going for $380 a week "but that was downstairs from a house, really, really small, and the entry was through a backyard (you had to ask permission for), there was no parking or no garage".
The cost of rent for some places was "ridiculous", she said.
"But we'll keep trying."
The average rent in Tauranga has risen by about 6 per cent over the past year, according to one rental agency.
Property experts warn that this, and looming changes to New Zealand's Residential Tenancy Act, will make things even tougher for would-be renters such as Watts.
As of July 1, landlords will be required to fully insulate rental properties. Anyone who doesn't could be liable for a penalty of up to $4000 under changes to the Act.
Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said he had already lost nine properties from his books since March. This was because some owners preferred to sell rather than pay the extra maintenance costs required under the proposed changes.
Other landlords were expected to pass those costs on to tenants immediately.
Lusby said people were struggling to find affordable rentals as there was not enough housing stock in the city, and many were choosing to live in Rotorua, Tokoroa, Putaruru and Tirau and commute to Tauranga instead.
"It seems they would much rather spend two hours a day in their car than pay the $50 to $100 a week extra rent in Tauranga."
On average, the cost of rentals increased by about 6 per cent compared to the same time last year, Lusby said.
However, there were examples of increases closer to 10 per cent, such as rent for a standard three-bedroom home rising from $460 to $510 within the past year.
Rentals BOP owner Gary Prentice echoed Lusby's concerns, saying many landlords had got out of the rental market in the past year because of upcoming Tenancy Act changes.
"They decided to take advantage of the buoyant sales market," Prentice said.
A shortage of available housing was a big reason behind people opting to commute these days, he said.
"It's an interesting market which is changing all the time. We currently have 10 properties on our books, which is a mix of two-bedroom and three-bedroom homes, half of which are short-term leases where the tenant has to be out by Christmas," Prentice said.
"We normally only have one or two of these types of rentals on our books at one time and usually get lots of inquiries, but we're struggling to attract lots of interest, he said.
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe told the Bay of Plenty Times earlier this week the biggest problem for clients was rising rents.
"Rental prices are increasing due to high demand, and affordability continues to be an issue, even with Work and Income assistance."
More affordable houses, apartments, units and homes were needed, she recently said.
New insulation regulations
Insulation will be compulsory in all rental homes from July 1, 2019, under the Residential Tenancies Act.
Ceiling and underfloor insulation must be installed, where it is reasonably practicable, by this date. It must meet the standards set out in the regulations and be installed safely. Wall insulation is not compulsory.
Under the Healthy Homes Standards, all rental properties will need to have insulation which meets the 2008 Building Code, or is at least 120mm thick.
Source - Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment