Rents up 8 percent in past year, rising even faster for small homes

Rents are 8 percent higher than they were this time last year, according to one of the country's biggest property sites.

August's median nationwide figure of $550 a week for new rentals matches the record set in July. While the alert level 4 lockdown announced in the middle of the month dried up demand, it did the same to supply. The overall effect was to see prices stay right where they were

"With the nationwide alert level 4 lockdown in August, we would've expected to see prices slow considering the tenants and landlords were stuck at home for most of the month," said sales director Gavin Lloyd. 

But with rents flatlining in the middle of last year thanks to the first wave of COVID-19, followed by a rapid rise once rent freezes were taken off, compared to last year the rental market has "charged on with every region in the country seeing an annual increase in rent".

Trade Me Property's median nationwide rent a year ago was $510 - up 8 percent since then. The current median - $550 - is now just below what the Auckland average was 12 months ago. Auckland's has gone up to $595. 

"The most expensive districts in the region were North Shore City ($630), and Papakura ($620) and Manukau ($605)," said Lloyd. The city itself, which has a higher proportion of smaller places, averaged $570. 

"August's most popular rental listing in Auckland was a four-bedroom house on West Lynn Road in Titirangi with a weekly rent of $690. It received 60 enquiries in its first two days onsite," said Lloyd. 

Wellington's median rent is back over $600, up 9 percent in the past year. Porirua rents led the way, rising to $650 a week. Christchurch rents rose 10 percent to a median of $495.

If you think you can avoid high rents by squeezing into a smaller space, there's more bad news - one- and two-bedroom properties rose faster than most, up 13 percent to a nationwide median of $475. 

And for renters - who already spend more of their incomes on housing costs than owner-occupiers, often of poorer quality - it's likely to get worse, with predictions prices will keep rising after we've beaten Delta.

"New Zealand’s rental market has been running hot since we came out of our first nationwide lockdown in 2020, despite many predicting we would see it slow down," said Lloyd. "We're expecting this time won’t be any different."

Trade Me Property's figures measure the price of new rental arrangements, so tend to run a bit higher than other measures, which include existing rentals that might not have had a recent increase. 

While rents have gone up 8 percent in a year, landlords have experienced massive windfalls - values rising 25 percent. New Zealand's most recent annual inflation figure was 3.3 percent.