Landlords selling rentals and converting properties into holiday accommodation are two of the factors driving up Rotorua rent prices, according to some.

New figures from Trade Me released this week show the median weekly rent in Rotorua in February was $373 - up $23 (6.5 per cent) from January and $53 (16.5 per cent) from February 2017.

Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said the simple answer behind the rent hike was too many people looking for a rental, and not enough houses.

"We advertised four houses to rent online on Friday and [Monday] morning there were 57 inquiries by email for four houses - it's just unbelievable," Evans said.


"I'm sure some of them are really desperate, living in cars and that sort of thing, but for most of the people looking, the property they're living in is being sold or the owners say they're moving back in."

Evans said many property managers and landlords were selling up and getting out of the market because of the new rules and regulations the Labour Government planned to introduce.

"We've had elderly people who are looking to rent and they really have nothing out there cheap enough," he said.

"Three years ago I would have been able to get them into a reasonably nice property but now that property is going for $100 more, or even more than that."

Steve Lovegrove from Professionals McDowell Rotorua said many landlords were converting to Airbnb and BookaBach type accommodation.

One Rotorua resident, who did not wish to be named, said his property was being converted into a BookaBach and he had been forced to move out.

"My landlord has started to convert all of his properties into BookaBach and my one is next. I have one month left in the place I'm living and I have been lucky enough to have one lined up to move into, but only because I knew someone," he said.

However, the property he is moving into will cost $140 more a week.


"I'm going to have to just wing it, I've got no choice because there are such big waiting lists out there and it's so hard to find a place.

"My issue is landlords like mine who is going out there and just putting all of the houses on BookaBach - half the time none of the places are full. I just think they could be utilised for people who need them."

Lovegrove said many investors were selling their rental properties and those were being snapped up by first home buyers.

He said that the housing stock shortage meant landlords could be a little more picky about the people they chose for their properties.

"So tenants of a good quality with strong references jump ahead of those who don't have the best track record and if you've got any blur on your application to rent a property it's becoming significantly more difficult to find a landlord who will take you," he said.

"Rent prices will continue to go up while we still have the demand pressure on the marketplace, I think there is still a strong flow of people coming into Rotorua to live. We're growing as a city, and this is part of our growing pains."

Does Lovegrove see the rental market cooling off?

"Not at all. I can't see any good, strong evidence that tells me the market is going to cool down, there's such a shortage of stock still, until we start seeing more developments and new homes being built, I can't see anything slowing down or cooling off."

A Turangi woman who was eager to move to Rotorua after "falling in love" with the city says she has now lost interest after months of unsuccessfully looking for a rental.

The woman, who only wanted to be known as Victoria, said the rental situation needed to be solved before people began to leave.

"My mum and I have been living in Turangi for the last few years, after migrating from Auckland to escape skyrocketing rental prices. We visited Rotorua around New Year's and fell in love, and have been looking for a place ever since."

She said there had been a number of obstacles, including lack of listings, the "ludicrous" rent prices and having pets.

"So far, we've inquired about dozens of houses and only got a viewing on one.

"The other major problem we've faced is the fact that we have animals. As soon as we admit we have cats, the agents don't even want to know us. One even told us we should get rid of our pets. These are beloved animals that we've had for up to 10 years, and are part of our family. I shouldn't have to consider abandoning a member of my family just to get a rental property."

She said she had the choice to stop looking for a rental, but felt terrible for people who had been evicted or given 90 days to move.

- Additional reporting Stephanie Arthur-Worsop