The majority of renters in Aotearoa don’t want to rent but feel as if they have no other option, new research has found.
A survey on the state of housing in New Zealand, commissioned by OneChoice, surveyed more than a thousand Kiwis about their housing preferences and experiences.
It found 76% of Kiwis who were renting would prefer not be, but felt as though they didn’t have any choice, while 67% said they weren’t happy about renting rather than buying their own home.
An overwhelming majority, 95%, said they felt as though the current rent was overpriced, while 89% worried about their ability to afford a home given property prices.
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Sheetal Hannagan-Parmar, who rents in Auckland’s Onehunga, was one of the Kiwis who wished to have their own home rather than renting.
“For a couple of years we boarded with others, when I became pregnant with our third we realised we needed to rent our own place.”
Hannagan-Parmar said she and her husband were in their 40s and would love to own a house, but worried it was too late.
“With the prices of everything we feel like we’re never going to get on the property ladder and we won’t be able to leave anything to our kids.
“If we do save enough, because of our age, we won’t be able to save enough for retirement after using our KiwiSaver.”
The reality of renting for many more years made Hannagan-Parmar “sad”, she said she wanted the “freedom” of owning a home.
“So many rentals say no to pets and we have a cat which makes it hard, you have property inspections to deal with and any issues at the property have to go through other people you can’t just get it fixed.
“You never know how long you’ll end up being there, your own home gives you that extra stability.”
The family decided due to the cost of living in Auckland to move to Flaxmere in the Hawkes Bay, where they would be renting another property.
Sandy Foster, chairperson of New Zealand Housing Foundation, said large numbers of people were “trapped” in rentals, particularly in Auckland.
“If people can’t get on the property ladder they can feel frustrated and secluded.”
Foster said rental prices in Aotearoa had also increased, so it was no longer always cheaper to rent rather than buy.
“Some people are now paying 50% of their income on their weekly rent.”
Foster said unfortunately there was no easy solution to fixing the housing market in Aotearoa, but one way to bring down prices would be to mass-produce houses.
“Most houses in New Zealand are their own unique design, in other industries, like with tech or cars, products are mass-produced. If we could apply that tech to housing it could bring prices down.”
Foster said there was hope for current renters to get on the property ladder, but they needed to be “modest in their expectations”.
“Even if the house is not quite what you want, it’s a start, I think we also need to consider whether homeownership is actually what we want.”
In many countries, Foster said, life-long renters were common, but rental properties were set up differently here.
“We have more individual property investors and are only starting to see build-to-rent places going up.
“Being a renter is not an easy road, but it could be more accepted if we had better options available.”