Porirua most expensive place to rent in New Zealand, causing 'huge financial burden' for tenants' - Mayor

For the first time Porirua has become the most expensive place in New Zealand to rent a home and the Mayor says it's creating a "huge" financial burden.

Porirua is located to the north of Wellington CBD about 20 minutes drive from the hustle and bustle of the city. It's a lower socioeconomic area -  data from the 2013 census shows 25.4 percent of those employed are on low incomes and 8.3 percent have no income at all. More than 30 percent of Porirua are renters, and a 2018 report found 20 percent of children lived in overcrowded houses, and a quarter were in homes that were damp and mouldy. 

Despite this, rents have continued to rise in the area until they reached the all-new high of $625 per week - the highest rent in all of New Zealand.

Trade Me property spokesperson Logan Mudge said high demand and low supply is forcing rents upwards.

"In September, the number of rentals listed in Porirua was down 6 percent when compared with the same month last year. Demand, on the other hand, shot up 17 percent on the year prior," he said.

As Wellington rents continue to spiral upwards, people are looking further afield for properties - but all this demand is forcing prices upwards elsewhere. 

Porirua Mayor Anita Baker knows as well as anyone that her city is becoming expensive.

"The cost of renting and owning has become prohibitive for way too many local families, and there isn't enough private or social housing stock to keep up with growing demand," she told Newshub.

"For many families, the proportion of household income going towards rent or mortgages is way out of kilter, and it's creating a huge financial burden."

The high rent means it's "impossible" for families to save for their own homes, she said.

Renters United spokesperson Robert Whittaker says the Government has to step in.

"The only solution to this is a lot more houses -  we need the Government to take big action on this," he told Newshub.

He says in the meantime rents need to be capped so they don't continue to creep up. 

"It's just a fact. We can't go on like this - people's incomes are unstable or dropping because of the COVID recession and they cant keep spending more and more of their money on rent."