Rental housing a struggle to find in Palmerston North
For Peter Hughes, finding a new home has been an uphill battle.
Since moving to Palmerston North, Hughes has been filling out paperwork, ticking boxes, and going to crowded rental house viewings for almost three months.
But still no luck.
After living in a rental for seven years in Tauranga, Hughes said he had no idea how difficult it would be to find a new home.
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Greg Watson, from Palmerston North's Watson Real Estate firm, said the past three months in particular had been challenging for renters.
With the market the way it was, it was generally hard for people to find homes, he said.
About 99 per cent of Watson's rentals were occupied, he said.
"It is hard. It's hard for everybody."
However, despite the challenge, he said there were always people moving out.
Immigration is one factor. Palmerston North City Council figures show Manawatū had a net gain of 1253 migrants into the region in the 12 months to June, a 19 per cent annual increase. Overall, New Zealand immigration increased 5 per cent in the same period.
Karen Hopkins, from Ray White Palmerston North, said it had a few more houses on the market, but they were expected to go "pretty quick".
"In a nutshell, the market is tight."
Hughes, 63, is looking for a one- or two-bedroom rental priced between $150 and $280 a week.
He has viewed about seven houses recently, including some "dirty filthy holes", and some viewings had up to 20 people at them.
Luckily, he has family to stay with until he finds a house, but he said he felt for those people with children struggling to find homes.
"The people who are way worse off than me must be ripping their hair out."
Hughes has tattoos on his arms and neck, and used to be associated with Sinn Fein, an Irish motorcycle gang in Upper Hutt.
He said he had historical drug-related and firearms-related charges, but no recent ones.
Hughes said he had been honest with land agents, "but I find that's against me".
"If you want a break, when do you get it? I've changed my life in the best part of 10 years completely, and I'm just getting slammed, doors closed."
He said a landlord or agency's main concern should be tenants paying rent.
"I can understand landlords not letting gangs in – I can understand them worrying about their houses, but they're insured."
Hughes said he didn't need to be judged. "As long as the rent gets paid, that's all you've got to know."
Watson said land agents could not choose tenants based on their sex or race. He said a single aspect in somebody's application should not affect how their application was looked at as a whole.
For example, Watson's had rented to people who were bankrupt in the past, because the rest of their application was suitable, he said.
He said it didn't matter what the tenant looked like, including if they had tattoos.
But Watson also encouraged tenants to be proactive.
Looking for rental properties was not as simple as checking the internet and he encouraged tenants to ring agencies and pass on their details.
Although tenants did not have to give all their details, he said it helped landlords to form a picture.
He said tenants could also give good references, present themselves well, offer to pay slightly higher rents, or give credit checks, previous payment records or mortgage payments to help their application.