Rents soar by 'unusual' amounts as tenants forced to pay thousands more each year - Trade Me

Rents in Aotearoa hit an all-time high in March, reaching a record-breaking average of $650 a week.  

Trade Me's latest Rental Price Index shows national rent prices have surged 8.3 percent in the year to March.  

The data reveals the national median rent has jumped to a record-breaking $650. Trade Me’s Property Sales Director Gavin Lloyd said that is well above average and is "unusual".  

"On average rents have increased by about 6 percent annually. While it's not the biggest annual increase we've ever seen, it is unusual to see it this high in March," Lloyd said.  

"We'd normally expect to see the market cool slightly as we exit summer and start heading into the colder months.   

"Renters are now having to fork out $50 a week more on average than they were in March 2023. That's an extra $2600 a year which will no doubt be putting pressure on Kiwis who are already doing it tough."  

The sharpest increase was seen in the Manawatū/Whanganui region which was up 10 percent on March 2023 at $550, while the Wellington region saw no change, remaining at $650.  

Green shoots in rental market with relief for tenants on the horizon

However, there might be some good news on the horizon for tenants with demand down and supply up for the second month in a row.   

Compared with the same time in 2023, there were 22 percent fewer enquiries and 3 percent more properties available last month.  

Lloyd said demand has been trending down since November while supply is increasing, meaning there soon could be less pressure on rental prices.  

"On the supply side it's a similar story. It's become normal to see supply contracting but those drops in supply have been shrinking and now we're seeing a 3 percent increase in the number of properties available compared to last year," Lloyd said.   

But he said while supply is catching up with demand, there is still a mismatch - but it's a good sign.   

"There's likely still a way to go before supply catches up with demand, but this is a really encouraging sign.   

"If this continues, with fewer people competing for more properties we'd expect to see prices stabilise or even fall which, of course, will be welcome news for renters looking for a new home." 

Kiwi embracing urban living

It's not just standalone houses with record-breaking prices though - apartments, townhouses and units are in hot demand across the motu. Together they jumped to a record-breaking average of $580 per week in March, 8.4 percent more than the same time last year.  

Surprisingly, prices are growing faster outside of the main city centres with 10 percent growth to a record $550 when Auckland is excluded.  

Lloyd said this shows more Kiwis in more places are beginning to embrace urban lifestyles and are happy to trade a bit of space for a great location.   

He added the rising cost of living has changed the way many people think about moving around our cities.   

Despite townhouse rents generally being slightly higher, Lloyd said their convenience can sometimes offset the extra rent.  

"Apartments and townhouses tend to be near good quality public transport, if not within walking distance of places people want to get to. If that means you can leave your car at home a few days a week, it can make a big difference to the wallet," he said.  

In Wellington/Pōneke, average rent for townhouses jumped 9 percent compared with March last year - despite the capital seeing no change in overall rents across the same period.   

Further south, Christchurch/Ōtautahi saw a notable jump in price for units reaching a record $460, up 9.5 percent.   

Apartments were up too, also a record high at $525.   

"Throughout the rebuild of Christchurch, the city has really embraced more compact urban living," said Lloyd.