Renting in Auckland is a truly terrifying experience.
In the past two weeks, I have contacted 46 people about as many properties and received a similar number of rejections.
One would think that my husband and I – a professional couple with excellent references and credit histories, and no children – would be considered perfect tenants.
However, we have two beautiful, medium-sized, friendly dogs that are an integral part of our little family. Sadly, that makes us much less desirable as tenants.
We knew it would be difficult – we have all heard about the phenomenon that is Auckland’s housing crisis and perhaps we underestimated the difficulty.
Last week, 150 people queued outside one rental property.
Just before I wrote this article, I received an email informing me that 20 people had already applied for a property that was only open for viewing in four days’ time and therefore they would not consider applicants with dogs.
I also viewed two properties – one had a dilapidated shed that looked like it belonged in a horror movie, a garage with holes in the wall, carpet from the early 1900s, no insulation and cost $540 per week.
On the upside, the owners were likely to accept dogs.
According to the Salvation Army’s 2015 State of the Nation Report, there are three versions of New Zealand’s housing story: What is happening in Auckland, What is happening in Christchurch and What is happening in the rest of the country.
The Christchurch story appears to be one of gradual recovery and adjustment and the rest of New Zealand seems to be coping alright.
The Auckland story, however, is truly unique.
According to Statistics New Zealand, Auckland’s population grew by 33,700 in the year to September 2014. That is, half of New Zealand’s total population growth happening in one city.
Of these, 27,600 were international migrants. Net international migration increased from 9000 per annum in previous years to 45,000 in 2014.
According to the 2013 Census, each occupied dwelling in Auckland houses an average of three people. This means Auckland needs 11,200 new dwellings to house 33,700 people.
In the year to December 31, 2014, about 7595 consents for new dwellings were issued in Auckland.
Therefore, Auckland sharply increases in population and migrants continue to flock to the City of Sails, presumably hoping for a better standard of living, housing stock is too low to keep up with the increasing population and demand.
If childless couples with relatively well-paying jobs are struggling to find decent, affordable accommodation, I hate to think what the situation would be for those on the minimum wage or for new migrants.
It is unfair to encourage migration but fail to provide migrants with housing, which is a basic human right. The dictionary definition of a crisis is a time of intense difficulty; the turning point between recovery and death.
This is a crisis and the government needs to get serious about building large numbers of houses. Merely fast-tracking building consents is too little, too late.
Priyanca Radhakrishnan is Policy Research and Communications Assistant to Phil Goff, Member of Parliament and Labour’s Spokesperson on Ethnic Affairs at his electorate office in Mt Roskill. As the above article explains, she is a victim of Auckland’s acute housing shortage.