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Finding a Rental Home in Auckland – Welcome to the Dark Side

NZ is amazing.  The cities offer an awesome array of culture and free entertainment.  Rural NZ, which is most of the country, is covered by lush, green rolling hills and deserted beaches.  I’ve never regretted my move to NZ from the US… until my landlord told me he was going to sell the house we were renting.  Only then was I exposed to the Dark Side of NZ.  During this two-month experience I’ve questioned my worth and the integrity of NZ’s property managers as a whole.

I knew house hunting would be difficult.  Housing prices are going through the roof.  Anyone that owns a rental property and can read has seen the headlines on every newspaper Auckland house prices hit new high, thus causing a selling frenzy, and Median weekly rent for three bedroom Auckland houses surged NZ$55 to NZ$550 in February.  I knew the market was set against me, but I thought I had a chance.

General Observations during my search:

Property Managers hold no qualms about lying in ads.  ‘Three double bedrooms” usually means one double bedroom, one bedroom that will fit a double bed as long as you don’t expect to open the closet door, and the third bedroom is really a larger then normal hall closet, that might fit a crib and a chair if you’re lucky.  Just don’t close the door, because I wouldn’t trust the oxygen to hold out for more than a few minutes.

Pictures lie.  Trademe.co.nz is the main place to find rentals throughout NZ.  If the property manager puts an ounce of effort into the ad it can be very helpful; rent, bond, pet situation, address, etc.  There is also a place to put pictures of the property.  Quoting an article I found during the worst moments of my search:

“ You absolutely cannot rely on photos made by the rental agency (this also applies to buying houses for that matter). I have never seen as skillful a photographer as the Kiwi real estate agent. Misleading is the only correct word for it. The house in the picture looks great, but you can’t see the garbage dump in the garden, the sky blue kitchen with a 20 year old electric stove with only one element in working order, or the neighboring deteriorated back street houses. ”

The general rental property under NZ$600 a week will have many, if not most of the issues below:

Mold, if you can’t see it you will smell it

Peeling Paint/wallpaper

Carpet that my dead Grandmother would find shockingly tacky

No insulation

Several houses had someone living below it.  This would have been something important to mention in the ad!

I had one property manager that had never seen the property before and was unable to explain what was behind the locked door at the bottom of the stairs. His guess was maybe someone lived there.  Or aliens, whatever…  Several showed up the 30 minute showing late, or not at all.  Thank you I really had nothing better to do at 1pm on a Tuesday, it’s not like I took off work for this or anything!  There was one ad that read “Open house Monday at 12noon for ten minutes.  This will be the ONLY showing.”  What the hell, I want your job!

The whole experience of looking at rentals highlighted the downside to a society of relaxed and otherwise flexible people.  I’ve learned I don’t want a relaxed, flexible landlord.  I would prefer someone that fixes things when they break and addresses issues before they become a health problem. I spent two months looking at houses I really didn’t want to live in, but of course applied for every one of them.

In the end we found a lovely three bedroom house that’s managed by the owner, not an agency.  How did we snatch up this diamond in the rough? We weren’t able to see the inside of the house before we agreed to sign a lease.  It was that or be homeless.


4 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience. You tell me the different New Zealand. As i know that the This can be supported by the increasing job opportunities and business establishments that consistently emerge in Auckland Central Business District. Even, most businessmen choose to rent shared office space Auckland for starting up business.

  2. Going through this exact pain at the moment (landlord selling the house we have lived in for five years); any Auckland houses even slightly suitable for our family of four and at a price we can afford (working decent paying, honest jobs) are group viewings, that about 10-20 people show up to.

    Very depressing and agree with everything said above – the photo’s are decieving, with the use of tilt-shift lenses to make tiny grass boundaries look like expansive backyards.

    With demand like this, landlords and/or agents can charge whatever they want and treat you however they want. Fortunate enough to have at viewed a few that at least treated us like humans.

    Time to start look way outside the town limits, and up-root our well settled children from the [zoned] school. That or rent a storage unit and live in a homeless shelter.

  3. Do you know if that also happens in Wellington too? I might be moving alone in a few months but I would rent an apartment.

    • Sorry. We’re not familiar with the Wellington housing market, but I wouldn’t expect it to be much different.

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