By Greg Ninness
The national median rent for newly tenanted properties hit $400 a week for the first time in February, according to data compiled by interest.co.nz from tenancy bonds collected by Tenancy Services.
That was an increase of $20 a week (5.3%) compared to February last year.
Of the 20 areas around the country where monthly rental figures are tracked by interest.co.nz, the biggest increases over the the last 12 months were in Queenstown Lakes and Tauranga, where the median rents in February were up $45 a week compared to a year earlier.
In Tauranga the median rent in February was $440 a week, up from $395 in February last year (+11.4%), and in Queenstown Lakes it was $525 a week compared to $480 a year earlier (+9.4%).
The median rent in Rotorua was also up significantly, rising from $280 in February last year to $320 in February this year (+14.3%).
In Auckland, where there is a growing housing shortage due to the region's strong migration-fuelled population growth and insufficient supply of new homes coming on-stream, the annual increases in median rents ranged from $15 a week in the central Auckland suburbs (within the old boundaries of the former Auckland City council) to $42 a week in Rodney.
The area with the highest median rent is Auckland's North Shore, where February's median rent was $550 a week, up $28 (5.4%) compared to February last year.
Some of the biggest increases over the last 12 months have occurred in places that have some of the highest proportions of people on low incomes, such as Manukau and Franklin in South Auckland and Porirua in Wellington, where the median rents have increased by $30 a week between February 2016 and February 2017.
Only three of the 20 areas tracked by interest.co.nz posted declines in median rents over the 12 month period, Whakatane -$10 a week, Kapiti -$20 and Christchurch -$10.
The median rent in Christchurch was $390 a week in February, down $30 a week (-7.1%) since it peaked at $420 a week in February 2015.
The table below shows the movement in median rents in the month of February since February 2014 in all 20 areas tracked by interest.co.nz.
Median rents in the month of February 2014 - 2017