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Struggle continues for would-be Auckland renters

Thursday 8 Mar 2012 12:38 p.m.

Demand for rental properties outweighs supply (file)

Demand for rental properties outweighs supply (file)

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By Anna Ferrick

The rental market struggle in Auckland City has left some potential tenants resorting to bunking with friends or family to wait out the shortage.

With fewer new homes being built than ever before and buyers reopening their wallets on the tail end of the recession, many would-be tenants are struggling to secure rental properties.

Natalie Wendell, key account holder at Wendell Property Management, says the lack of rental properties at the moment is partially due to people relocating to the city.

“There’s a lot of people coming from Christchurch and a lot of people immigrating from overseas," she says, "people who are buying businesses here and moving their whole extended families over.”

Keith Niederer, of LJ Hooker & Harveys in Auckland, agrees.

“There are people moving up from Christchurch who have been paid out and are looking for homes - all the jobs are up here," he says.

"There are also people coming from overseas with money, and buying or renting the inner city apartments because they like the city life.”

Nationwide trends are also contributing to the shortage, Ms Wendell says, with reluctance to build new properties following the leaky homes scandal playing a large part.

“With the recession, building now costs so much more money - people aren’t doing it, so there’s no new housing," she says.

"Building en masse just isn’t happening like it used to... everyone is petrified of investing.”

Buyers are increasingly making their presence felt in the marketplace, which Mr Niederer says means less housing is available for rent.

"Buyers are recognising it’s a good time to purchase property at the moment. They are starting to realise with rents so high, it’s a similar price to rent and to buy.”

Agents say with fewer homes being built and more being bought, demand for rental properties outweighs supply. This has caused prices to rise considerably over the past year.

A two-bedroom house in Parnell that was let for $450 in 2011 was relisted for $650 last month. Increases similar to this can be seen all over Auckland.

Mr Niederer says city fringe areas including Herne Bay, Royal Oak and Onehunga are feeling the price pinch the most.

“The only things coming down in Auckland are the rain, the leaves and the temperature – not the prices.”

Ms Wendell and Mr Niederer both say it is not uncommon for up to 20 groups to apply for a single property.

Benjamin Jackett, 20, of Auckland, has been staying on friend’s couches while searching for a rental property since October last year.

“It’s quite intimidating, there are so many people at each viewing," he says.

"Three-bedroom properties that a year ago were $400 have jumped hugely, we can’t find anything decent for less than $500 now.”

Mr Jackett has applied for upwards of 20 properties, but without being able to offer more money, landlords are often uninterested.

It’s a trend Ms Wendell thinks will continue.

“Bribery is becoming more prominent, people will offer more money, or extra fees. There are definitely property agents out there who will take advantage of it.”

Anna Ferrick is a journalism student at AUT University

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