Housing crisis: Rents up everywhere, as demand far outstrips supply

New data from Trade Me suggests the number of rentals available is increasing.

While that might seem like good news as the cost of buying a home skyrockets out of reach for many, it's not enough - because demand is increasing even faster.

Six percent more rentals were available in November than a year ago, Trade Me said, but demand is up more than three times that - rising 20 percent.

This has driven the median rent price up another 4 percent to $520, said Trade Me property spokesperson Logan Mudge. And if you're after a typical medium-sized family home, as opposed to an apartment, you're looking at around $590 a week. 

"This is the biggest year-on-year increase in supply we have seen since June. However, with demand sky-high, up by a whopping 20 percent year-on-year, rental prices around the country have stayed very high."

Since 2015, the median rent demanded by landlords has risen 21 percent. Over that same time period, the median house price according to the Real Estate Institute of NZ has increased 64 percent - from $456,000 in November 2015 to $749,000 now.

Rent hikes have regularly outpaced inflation, which has been between 0.1 and 2.5 percent over the past five years. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment's (MBIE) data paints an even worse picture for renters - showing the median rent up 30 percent in the past five years

"There is no doubt that it has been a stressful year for renters, prices have skyrocketed this year and they're not showing any signs of slowing down," said Mudge. 

Like house prices - up nearly 20 percent in a year - the rise in rents has been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession. Landlords were prevented from putting rents up between March and September, but MBIE data shows most got their hikes in before the price freeze, with a large jump between January and March.

"The Government did its best to provide tenants with certainty over the lockdown period by introducing the rent freeze and while that helped temporarily the wider issue of supply and demand has continued to see rents climb," said Mudge.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government would announce new measures to address the crisis next year.

rental price index
Photo credit: Trade Me


Auckland's median rent is up 4 percent to $575. Supply is up 8 percent, well below the 16 percent rise in demand.

North Shore is the most expensive place to rent in the super city, then Rodney, Manukau and Papakura.

"The most popular rental in the region was a three-bedroom house on Kenderdine Rd in Papatoetoe," said Mudge. "It was listed for $550 per week, and received 70 enquiries in its first two days."


The median rent in the Wellington region is $580, up 6 percent; in the city it's $595. 

"After overtaking the city as the most expensive district in the Wellington region for the first time in September, the Porirua median weekly rent was once again on par with Wellington City's in November, at $595," said Mudge.

Supply was up 5 percent and demand 14 percent. The most popular listing was a four-bedroom place on Dorking Rd, Brooklyn, which cost $895 a week.


Not a single region of the country saw rents go down this year. 

"It's rare to see increases across the board but that’s just a mark of the New Zealand rental market - it’s hot nationwide," said Mudge.

Southland had the fastest-growing rents, up 16.7 percent, followed by Manawatu/Whanganui (15.8), Hawke's Bay (14.1) and Gisborne (13.3). The slowest rise was in West Coast, up just 1.8 percent. Auckland was second, up 2.7 percent. No region recorded a drop. 

The most popular listing nationwide was a three-bedroom house on Ikanui Rd in Frimley, Hastings - the $400 place had 102 enquiries in its first two days online.

The only type of dwelling to see a rent drop was urban apartments. Those looking for a large place in Christchurch to rent were in luck - prices down 3.7 percent to $655.