All-time high rental prices push families to breaking point

The only way is up for soaring rental prices - and it's not just the main centres that are costing more now.

Research from Trade Me property shows the median weekly rent price has ballooned to $500. And that's pushing some families to breaking point.

For Stevie and Kararaina Ruka, the last few weeks have been gruelling. Struggling to find a rental in Napier, their family's been forced into a motel.

"It does become stressful at times," Stevie says. "It has taken a toll on our marriage so we just doing our best to stay together and fight through this."

Having five children makes rental applications difficult. At times, finding a four-bedroom home seems impossible to afford.

"We applying and we keep getting turned down," Kararaina says.

New figures out show Hawke's Bay is one region where rental prices have hit an all-time high. The median weekly rent here has jumped up 12.5 percent, to $450 a week.

The country's median income is $679 per week. That means for many, most earnings are going to rent.

"We know rents are the most expensive expense that tenants have and so they need their income to keep up with that and at the moment it's not," says head of Trade Me rentals, Aaron Clancy.

It's not just Hawke's Bay - other regions are also seeing an explosion in rents.

  • Hamilton prices have climbed 7 percent year on year
  • Marlborough is up 16 percent
  • Southland rose 18 percent
  • Manawatu's median price jumped a whopping 20 percent

Property experts point to a number of reasons for the rapid increase in rents. In particular, a cooling Auckland market has seen many people move to the regions, pushing prices up there.

"Auckland peaked in 2016 and has been flat since then," says Property Institute CEO Ashley Church.

"The rest of the country, because it came into that cycle later, it's taking longer to come out of it."

Church does eventually expect prices to flatten in the regions in the long term.

For the Ruka family, that can't come soon enough as they face Hawke's Bay rents that are more than $400.

"The struggle is real, and when you hear prices like that you do tend to lose your breath and skip a heartbeat," Stevie says.

A family searching for an answer, and a home, with winter only days away.