We ask the people.
It’s that magical time of year when it seems every student and yopro is scrambling to find a place to live.
For students, the Government is trying to make it easier by offering an extra $50 per week in allowances and living cost loans this year, on top of its free first year of tertiary study.
But Trade Me’s latest rent price index, based on its listings, shows the average median national rent is $460 per week, up 3.4 per cent on last year and a record high. Wellington is up 8.7 per cent to $470 per week and Auckland 1.9 per cent to $530 per week.
Record increases are expected again this year.
The Wireless asked Wellington rangatahi how tough it is to find a decent place to live.
REMEDEE, RETAIL WORKER
I’ve been renting here for four years. I wouldn’t say it’s the cheapest. I’m originally from Whanganui, where rent is a hell of a lot cheaper. I pay about $220 for my room in Mt Cook and flat with six others. When I first moved here I was paying $160 at another place, but I hear their rent has been going up yearly since I left.
It is expensive in Wellington, but more so when you have to think about bonds and especially things like letting fees where landlords will slap on an extra $2000 or something. Every time you move you’re starting afresh and you’re going to have to pay a lot more than if you were already settled.
I’ve flatted for two years. My first year I lived in Brooklyn in a really shitty place that was mouldy as hell and I paid $150 for a room with a lot of others. This year I’m living in the Basin apartments and it’s more expensive but at least the quality is better and it’s at least warm.
It was tough to find this place. When we were looking we had to have everything ready to go at all times. It was just manic and everyday was stressful. If a halfway decent place came up we had to be ready to commit.
If there were no holes in the walls - great. Bonus.
I flat with some friends in the CBD. Our place was freezing in winter, but that’s just because it was central. We couldn’t afford to run heating during the winter. But as far as things go, the place isn’t too bad. It’s not mouldy. I do think we’re being charged more than we probably should - the three of us pay $650 per month. We’re moving out this year and the landlord is going to put the rent up - I can’t remember how much by.
My friend and I have been looking for a new place but it’s been difficult. In the lead-up to the new year we’ve only found one place within our price range and decent enough to live in. But you’re competing for these places with hundreds of other students and young people.
We have been offered two places for $250 each but one had gaps between the ceiling and the windows and the landlords said they wouldn’t fix it. The other had no windows that opened. I went to see a flat on Dixon St a couple of weeks ago and it was literally covered in rubbish. That probably wasn’t completely the landlords fault, but it seems like they feel they can get away with things like this because everyone is so desperate. They were charging $500 for two people.
My friend and I have a cover letter with two photos - it’s a full A4-and-a-bit page describing us and our extra-curricular interests and where we volunteer and a bit about our values and stuff. We don’t necessarily want to live out of the city because we’d then be paying $30 per week in transport costs and it just doesn’t balance out at all. You don’t really have a choice.
KALO, SUPPORT WORKER
I started renting in Wellington in 2013. I’m staying in a one-bedroom apartment in Thorndon and I’m paying $230, which is the cheapest I’ve ever seen. The rent has gone up by $30 but it’s a good place and still really cheap. I only agreed to it if they would fix certain things in the flat and they did. There are still things that need fixing but my landlords seem really onto it.
I work with a lot of students and none of them are very happy with the rental prices at the moment. The start of the year can be really bad. I have students complaining about others bidding for properties and driving the price up. Other students might be paying $230 in a six bedroom place in really shitty conditions. The advice I give is to secure a place as quickly as possible, which isn’t always financially advisable, but it’s so tough.
My rent in Aro Valley has gone up $10 per flatmate. I have a lot of friends whose rent has gone up by $50 and it seems like more than just coincidence that that’s the exact same extra amount we’re getting in living costs through StudyLink this year.
We shouldn’t have to spend that money on rent - it’s so we can pay for basic things and put more attention toward our studies while working less. Having that extra money should feel like lifting a blanket of stress from your shoulders, but having landlords taking advantage of that seems kind of shitty. But with the housing market the way it is, I suppose that’s just the way it is and we have to accept it.
My rent went up by $10 last year and our landlord hasn’t told us yet whether it’s going up again this year. We live in Karori and it’s not too expensive. Some of my friends’ rents have gone up. It is frustrating, especially when you hear of people going to a flat viewing and they’re told they can have the flat, but only if they offer more money. I feel like there’s not enough to protect young people from certain landlords - especially when they can put the rent up and not give any reason. But there’s a real shortage in Wellington and I don’t want to leave and have to battle so many other people for just an average place.
I’m just visiting Wellington from Auckland - I’ve been renting there for a year in Grey Lynn. When I found the place and saw it was $170 per week in that area I thought it was incredible and I was so lucky, but then we found rat nests in the ceiling. There are holes in the ceiling the rats have now chewed through. There are also ants, and the landlord said ants were our problem and wasn’t going to get rid of them. There are holes in the wall but the landlord denied this, even after we showed her photos. There are four flats on the same property and the walls are very thin so it’s always loud. You just have to toss up in Auckland between paying something reasonable and getting a good place.
Another problem in Auckland is, because it’s so competitive, many landlords only consider applications from people who are over 25 - basically yopros. They don’t want students. Everyone I know in Auckland lives somewhere that has serious issues - plumbing, bad windows, holes in the roof or whatever - but they’re students so they can’t be picky. I don’t think we should put up with this kind of thing, but we do.
I’ve started to look elsewhere because as soon as my exams were over, our landlord just said “you’re out”, even though our tenancy was until February. This was after she tried to increase the rent from $850 to $1200. We weren’t given a reason for that. My stuff is in a storage locker at the moment. I think I might move somewhere that’s not infested with pests.
BRIE (AND SCOTT)
We live in a five bedroom house in Brooklyn. and we pay a real decent price, especially as it’s so close to the CBD. There are mint views as it looks down on the city. The problem is we have to move out because the landlords have decided to renovate. We know a lot of people who have landlords doing that - renovating then selling - just because it’s such a good time for it. It’s a tough time to find somewhere. Scott is staying with a friend for a while and I’ve decided to sublease and move to America.
It’s very condensed at the moment and expensive. At the price we’re paying right now - $164 each - we’re definitely going to have to move into something in a much worse condition.