Build-to-rent: More high-rise apartments in the pipeline for Auckland's North Shore as rental demand soars

As the cost of living bites, new data shows more of us are opting for smaller homes to keep outgoings down.

As rental prices continue to rise, demand for apartments and small houses is up 55 percent on last year.

And there are now projects in the pipeline to accommodate our rising rental population.

Four years from now expect to see another high rise on the North Shore skyline because a new build-to-rent development is in the works.

It's welcome news to Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chair Toni van Tonder who has been working with the council to prepare for an influx of future residents.

"Knowing they can lock-in a long-term rental in a prime spot is really important," she said.

That's because build-to-rent projects are typically large-scale and offer multi-year tenancy agreements.

The 350 apartments will be built at a site in Takapuna. Auckland Council's development arm sold the land to the developers with certain community expectations and the developers decided on build-to-rent, a concept that's gaining interest as demand for rental properties soars.

Trade Me's latest data shows demand for apartments and small houses is up 55 percent compared to last year and nationwide, the median weekly rent for an apartment was up 8 percent to $540 a week.

"One of the things that's driving it is the cost of living. People are making compromises on the type of property that they can afford and want to move into," said Trade Me Property sales director Gavin Lloyd.

"We've seen interest rates going up, we've seen an overall level of inflation that of course is having an impact on the level of rent that renters are paying," added Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

A jump in migration since the border reopened is also having an impact.

"That net migration is definitely driving that demand in the Auckland Central location in particular," said Lloyd.

In 2021, the Government changed tenancy rules in favour of renters by limiting rent increases to once a year scrapping 'no cause' terminations and allowing automatic rollover of fixed-term tenancies to those with no end date - changes National is promising to reverse.

"We need mum and dad landlords in the rental market offering properties. At the moment, a lot of them just say 'it's way too hard'," said National's housing spokesperson Chris Bishop.

But Housing Minister Megan Woods said tenants deserve certainty and the problem to address is our historic lack of supply.

"Rents are high in this country because we simply did not have enough homes," she said.

But with developments like this still years away it's no quick fix.