Chilly rentals shunned for high-end homes

JAZIAL CROSSLEY
BUSINESS REPORTER
Last updated 05:00 25/10/2012
Owen Williams
CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post

HOUSE HUNTING: Owen Williams is a frustrated flat hunter, saying his young age is against him.

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Wellingtonians are turning their noses up at poorly insulated properties and competing for higher-priced rental homes, causing rates at the bottom end of the market to plummet and landlords to become picky about who they choose as tenants.

According to the latest Business, Innovation and Employment Ministry data, in the year to August the average rate for a Wellington home slumped 4.2 per cent to $362. The fall was despite rents rising 3.5 per cent elsewhere nationwide.

Falling Wellington rents can be put down to properties that are poorly maintained dragging the average down, with a 10 per cent plummet in Hutt Valley rent prices across the suburbs Eastbourne, Pinehaven, Waiwhetu South, Totara Park and Gracefield.

Quinovic Hutt Valley principal Tom Finlay said that properties at the bottom end of the market were having to reduce rents to attract new tenants when previous tenants moved out.

The standards that tenants expected in a house had risen in recent years, he said. Tolerance of chilly homes and damp conditions deteriorated significantly after the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority's push for partly funded insulation and heat pumps in properties.

Oxygen Property Management new business manager Grant Foggo said Wellington tenants were willing to pay a premium for properties in good condition.

"With the economy flat and insurance premiums rising, landlords are much more focused on their properties - they have to be good proactive landlords. Tenants are looking around being selective and are so tired of seeing rubbish, poorly maintained properties that are overpriced. There is a bit of frustration out there."

One frustrated flat hunter, Owen Williams, said youth was against him and his three flatmates despite being non-smokers without pets who were willing to pay up to $200 a week each for a shared house together.

"Landlords are hesitant to even consider renting to you once they find out that you're under 25."

After four months of looking "almost anywhere centralish" at houses in city fringe suburbs Mt Cook, Mt Victoria and Thorndon, the group of employed young people had failed to find a suitable flat because of competition for the same properties from professionals and young families wanting to live centrally.

In high--demand city-fringe suburbs, a group of professional 30- year-olds would appeal to landlords nine times out of 10 compared with younger tenants, Mr Foggo said.

The properties Oxygen found rented the most easily and were popular with tenants were higher-priced homes in Khandallah and Ngaio, and houses in Karori, Island Bay and Newtown.

Contact Jazial Crossley
Business reporter
Email: jazial.crossley@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @msbananapeel

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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