A two-bedroom Rotorua unit attracted 62 potential tenants to its March viewing, while the city's median rent price fluctuates between $350 and $400.

LJ Hooker property manager Jenna Austin said any well-presented and reasonably-priced rental property offered to the market results in an inundation of inquiries, highlighting the shortage of rentals in the city.

"We are fielding inquiries from families, from single people, from students and from flatties – there is a huge need and there are some desperate people out there.

Read more: Rotorua property sales increase but median price drops as investors, first-home buyers drive market
Rotorua properties make $22.9 million 'profit' in three months


"Right now we're trying to figure out how to show a property because the number of people coming through to view them is crazy."

Austin's comments come as figures from Trade Me's latest Rental Index for March show Rotorua's median weekly rent has slipped to $350 from $372 the month before.

The median rent for a medium-sized house (three to four bedrooms) was $385 in March, while a small-sized home (one to two bedrooms) was $290.

Austin said property managers were having to deal with people who were "stuck" and struggling to put an affordable roof over their head.

"An increase in first-home buyers means investors are deciding to sell rental properties. This decreases the rental pool which is making a tough market even tougher.

"We're getting hounded and, ultimately it's the landlord who selects the tenant. But when 62 people view a property and only one will be successful, there's obviously going to be some frustration and disappointment out there."

According to Trade Me figures, Rotorua's most popular March rental property was on Rutland St, attracting 34 inquiries in the first two days on-site.

A Malfroy Rd home was second with 23 inquiries in the first two days, followed by a Gem St property with 22 inquiries in the first two days.


Rotorua Rentals co-director Richard Evans said the biggest demand was for three to four-bedroom homes between $350 and $450.

"We listed a nice home for $420 last week and we got a dozen inquiries overnight. When we listed a similar-sized home for $290 we were absolutely snowballed."

Evans said inquiries were still high but it appeared the shortage of properties was beginning to ease.

"We have 18 properties on the market at the moment which is the highest amount we've had for about two years.

"As more properties come on to the market we will see some of these crazy rent prices come back down and the power will shift from the landlords to the tenants. It won't happen tomorrow, but we are seeing it happen."

Love Soup Rotorua's Elmer Peiffer said many two-income families were making "just enough" to put a roof over their heads with nothing left over for bills.

"It's really tough out there. There is a lack of rental properties available which is driving up the price and making things unaffordable for many."

Peiffer said it was becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a rental and landlords had the luxury of picking "the cream of the crop" when it came to tenants.

"For some of the people we are working with, a rental property has become a luxury they can't afford. If you are a single person working full-time for the living wage, you need to be in a flatting situation – there's not really any way you could afford a place of your own."

He said while rent, food and living costs continued to climb, wages remained stagnant.