The problem: unaffordable rents

A home is a home, whether someone rents or owns it. The 1.4 million people who rent in Aotearoa should be able to reasonably expect to stay in their home for as long as they need to.

But the cost of renting a home is rising, much faster than incomes. Internationally, having to spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing is recognised as “unaffordable”. In Aotearoa, more than four out of every ten people who rent have to spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent. People who rent generally spend a higher proportion of their income on housing than people who live in a home they own, and rental housing is often lower quality.

Unaffordable rent in cities like Auckland and Wellington is spilling out into other parts of Aotearoa. Rents in Northland, Waikato, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, and Marlborough have all hit new highs in 2021.

When rents get really unaffordable, people are made homeless. Rising rents also force households to go without other essential items, such as healthy food and heating. Unaffordable rent can make families move often in search of a more affordable home, unsettling community connections and children’s education. High rents can push people to move further away from their jobs and places of education, increasing commuting time and making it inconvenient for people to walk, cycle, or use public transport. They can disrupt established neighbourhoods and communities, leading to gentrification.