16 Jan 2019

Student desperation for rental properties hitting new highs in Wellington

6:03 pm on 16 January 2019

Wellington students desperate to find rentals are getting creative to try and find housing, while others with rentals are struggling to make rent.

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A group of Wellington university students have taken a novel approach to trying to find a new rental home. Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

But experts have warned it will only get worse.

Massey University student Harry Simpson, 19, and his three friends have applied to dozens of rental properties over the past few months.

"In terms of the flats we've been looking at, there's quite a range from the very bad to family home type of places, we're not fussed on what we're looking for, honestly we're looking for just anything at this point," he said.

The group originally wanted to spend $800 a week, but despite upping that to $850, they were still having trouble.

So Mr Simpson thought outside the box and came up with the idea to post messages in letterboxes.

"We tried it as a last-ditch effort to get the word out, we dropped about 50 flyers around some places around our University to try and spread the word," he said.

Wellington-based Massey University student Harry Simpson has been putting flyers in letter boxes as a last ditch attempt to find a rental

The flyer Mr Simpson and his friends distributed in a bid to find somewhere to rent. Photo: RNZ

However, RNZ were the first to get in contact with the group.

Mr Simpson said he would love to hear from anyone who may have a rental available and he could be contacted at harrygus.simpson@gmail.com.

He and his friends are not alone.

Massey Wellington Students' Association president Jamie-Lee Bracken said pretty much all of the problems handled by their advocacy service this year related to tenancy.

"Most of our hardship grants have all gone to rent and even then it doesn't cover enough, but all we can give is $500," she said.

Ms Bracken said the situation had become so bad it was affecting student health.

"Our health and counselling services have had a significant increase of students coming to them extremely distressed because they can't afford to pay the rent, they can't afford to find a place and they're worried they will be homeless.

"We do actually have a few students that we know of who are homeless, because they can't find a place," she said.

What's driving the problem?

Bindi Norwell, CEO of REINZ

REINZ CEO Bindi Norwell Photo: supplied

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand chief executive Bindi Norwell said housing supplies were lacking in the Wellington region.

"That's put pressure on not only house prices but on the rental market as well that's becoming quite competitive," she said.

Trade Me head of rentals Aaron Clancy said the demand was only going to increase.

"We'll definitely see it heating right up through January and February, that's been the sign over the past two or three years, 2018 was pretty difficult for tenants finding a property and we're not seeing that ease up at all.

"The early signs are that there's already queues out the door for rentals," he said.

Mr Clancy said last January rents were at an all-time high in Wellington, but he expected them to be even higher this year.

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