Opinion: Why renting in Auckland sucks

OPINION: I had barely unpacked in my first rental when the landlord told me he was selling the house. We had just moved back from the Bay of Plenty right bang at the start of the Auckland housing boom.

Property to rent or buy was in short supply so we took a house on a six-month lease because that was all that was about.

Renting was supposed to be a brief stop-gap until we bought again. That was four years and three houses ago.

My wife and I along with two children moved into the rented house in Milford. It had black paint on the wall that I guess was there to hide the mould.

On the first night I discovered the oven didn't work, well barely - you may have been able to warm bread but after two hours a chicken hadn't cooked.

A week later, our landlord's agent - the landlord lived overseas - brought around a second-hand oven that also barely worked.

The single-storey house had no heating or insulation, and we had a three-month-old baby. Part of me was pleased when the landlord said he was going to sell as it was a health hazard. Another part of me was annoyed we had to fork out more money to shift to another rental property.

Trying to buy at the time was a nightmare. The favoured way of selling was via auction and houses were going way above their asking price. While homeowners rejoiced their houses were going up in value, others were seeing their dreams of owning a home go down the toilet. 

We found another house to rent, this time from a landlord who managed the property himself. He too was reluctant to spend any money to fix things. The plumbing was a patched up repair job and one day a mains pipe broke, soaking everything within a 10-foot radius. He wouldn't let me call an emergency plumber and came round many hours later to mend it himself, patching up the leak.

After 10 months, the eyewatering prices the neighbouring properties were going for were too much for him to resist.

"I am selling the house," he told me, despite assuring me when we moved in that he was in for the long term.

Eighteen months, two houses and another move. Another set of moving costs and another set of fees to pay. Plus the disruption.

House number three lasted longer, long enough for us to find a house to buy.

But the rental was cold and damp and the roof leaked. When it rained, which it does in Auckland a lot, water came through the ceiling.

I asked our landlady to fix it countless times. She lived overseas, and while she made every effort to have these things repaired, the leaks came back.

Often she would ask me to arrange for work to be done and deduct the cost from the rent.

It feels good to be back on the property ladder, even though it is a very expensive ladder that I might never fully own. 

Renting was, on the whole, not a pleasant experience. Being at the whim of fickle landlords. Putting up with substandard appliances. Living in cold and damp conditions with no desire from the owner to improve conditions.

This was all in a decent neighbourhood paying an above-average rent. I hate to think what it is like in cheaper accommodation.

I know landlords have their side of the story, but you are running a business and I am your client, and for the money I paid, I expected a better service.

Mark Longley is the managing editor of Newshub digital.