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This year’s rental issues the worst, says flat hunter without a home

Feb 14th, 2018 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Renee Pearson is locked in a struggle to secure a flat.

After a month of flat-hunting in Wellington, Renee Pearson is no closer to finding a flat.

The 26-year-old graphic designer is no stranger to this, having moved at least once a year in four or five years of living in Wellington.

“It’s not a new experience for me and it’s something always struggled with,” says Pearson, who makes do by staying with friends and family.

“This year in particular it’s really, really hard to the point where I actually moved out of my last flat about a week ago and had nowhere to go.”

She is not alone. New Zealand’s renting difficulties has been flagged in the Salvation Army’s annual report card, which gave housing a fail grade today.

The report says mixed rental data makes it difficult to be exact about affordability.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) suggests a 2.3% rise, but Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) bond data points to 3 – 4% increases.

Regions like Waikato and Wellington went as high as 6 – 7%, while nominal incomes, (unadjusted for inflation), rose less than 2% over the past years.

The report shows rents outpacing wages over the last five years, particularly in Auckland and Wellington.

Low-cost, Wellington suburbs have seen rent rises of over 10% annually, and around 30% in the last five years, amid strong demand.

Pearson sees this demand in action at flat viewings.

“There’d literally be a queue out the door, down the street, you’d be looking along with 20, 30 other people.

She says supply outstrips demand, and demand from students adds to the issue.

“A lot of the houses are in really poor condition but, because there’s such high demand, landlords aren’t really forced to maintain the properties to a high standard.

Letting fees, bond and rent-in-advance can make moving cost several thousand dollars, Miss Pearson says.

More housing, a ban on letting fees, tougher tenancy standards, and increased renters’ rights and security of tenure are needed, she says.

She says potential tenants are struggling to afford properties, often ill-maintained by landlords.

‘Anyone will take the flat because they’re desperate.”

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