‘Abusive behaviour’: Rejected rental tenants lash-out

Abusive texts, swearing over the phone and angry confrontations.

That’s the behaviour landlords and rental agency staff say they are having to deal with from angry would-be tenants who miss out on homes as the rental market tightens.

Other hopefuls are offering landlords sweeteners such as six months’ rent in advance as they battle for homes and rental costs reach record levels in the Bay of Plenty.

Budget advisory services say the price hikes are ”crippling” and a corresponding rise in house values has placed the dream of homeownership out of reach for many.

Latest Trade Me data shows the median weekly rent in the Tauranga district last monthwas $595 – an 8 per cent year-on-year increase.

In the Rotorua district over the same period, median weekly rent reached an all-time high of $500, up 11 per cent.

Trade Me sales director Gavin Lloyd said summer tended to be the time of year with the most activity and, unfortunately for renters, prices could climb even higher before the year was over.

Tauranga Property Investors Association president Juli Tolley said the pressure on the rental market was leading to heated exchanges.

Disgruntled applicants could become ”very abusive” if they were not selected, she said.

”It can be a stressful time for people looking for a home but abusing people if you don’t get it does not help. In fact, it can hurt future efforts. The receiving person will remember the behaviour and will bypass that person the next time around.”

”Better to be nice and leave a lasting impression that others will remember in a positive manner.”

Landlords also should not be lured by incentives offered by prospective tenants.

Rental properties were valuable assets so it was important to select tenants who would look after that investment.

Tauranga Rentals owner Dan Lusby said competition for homes was intense.

Some people were offering six months’ rent in advance to secure a roof over their heads.

”There is a lot of good tenants out there so they are battling against each other, not just the bad tenants.”

He said the company would find a house one day and it would be gone within three days due to demand.

Weekly rent of $595 would only get you an average three-bedroom home in an average location, he said.

His staff had been abused by prospective tenants who had missed out.

”Usually, it’s not face-to-face. They like to call you over the phone swearing or send you a nasty text message.”

Lusby said he did not tell people why they were unsuccessful to avoid those situations.

”It’s not fair and not our fault.”

Rotorua Rentals director Pauline Evans said staff had noticed people were quick-tempered and frustration levels were rising.

”There may be many reasons for this, they may have lost their job, [be] struggling with higher rents or pressure on relationships. We try to deal with any difficult situation in a calm manner, never knowing who may spark at any one time.”

Tenants wishing to impress had offered extra rent which was declined.

Evans said tenants applying for properties needed to be transparent about their situation.

”If possible, have references that we can check to ensure they are giving us the facts of their situation.”

Rotorua Property Investors Association president Sally Copeland said a lot of people were trying to transition from emergency housing.

”The demand outweighs supply which is pushing rental prices up.”

Sometimes people had offered to pay additional money if landlords would agree to allow pets.

However, Copeland said landlords should only ask for one week’s rent in advance and four weeks’ as a bond.

Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe said rent was the biggest expense most of its clients had and the cost was ”crippling”.

”We see many clients with rent arrears and the damage this causes to the credit score makes it difficult for them to find another rental.Everything else gives: food, utilities and debt repayments.”

”Clients just get further and further behind.”

Rotorua Budget Advisory Services manager Pakanui Tuhura said rising rents had caused people to tighten their belts and reduce spending.

The level of hardship had risen and people were going into survival mode. Dreams of homeownership were out of reach.

”The future dreams of first-home ownership, as there is a definite correlation between rising house prices and rising rents, and being able to save for deposits and other big-ticket items are also being put aside as people go into survival mode.”

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