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Tauranga’s housing shortage has worsened with rental listings plummeting by a third and properties being snapped up within hours.

In August there were only 388 rental properties listed in Tauranga compared to the 585 listed in August 2013 and 589 in August 2012. Yesterday Trade Me had 166 rental properties listed in the area.

When the Bay of Plenty Times first reported on the shortage last November there were 320 rentals on Trade Me and in January there were 270.

Tauranga landlord Lindsay Richards had seen the effects of the shortage first hand.

“A couple of months ago we rented a property, three bedrooms. Within four hours of placing the Trade Me ad we had a tenant signed and a deposit paid,” he said.

“We advertised one about two weeks ago and had a good 50 replies in about a week.”

Tauranga Rentals principal Dan Lusby said the “huge shortage” meant rents would rise as there was still a demand for quality housing and not enough being built.

Usually at this time of year the number of rentals picked up but that had not yet happened and the situation seemed to be getting worse, Mr Lusby said.

The Tauranga City Council’s plans for affordable housing areas would help in the long term, he said.

“In the meantime we’re going to be short, rents are going to rise and people are going to be too scared to move because they are going to be paying more rent.”

The average rent had already risen about 10 per cent compared to a year ago, he said.

Tauranga Harcourts general manager Nigel Martin had also noticed the shortage.

“We’re being inundated with applicants,” he said.

A major factor was that the loan-to-value ratio restrictions brought in last October forced first-home buyers to rent while they saved for the 20 per cent deposit, he said.

Many houses needed to be built and the lending restrictions needed to be removed to allow first-home buyers back into the market, he said.

Predictions of an increase in investor activity when the restrictions came in were just starting to come to pass, Mr Martin said.

Realty Services chief executive Ross Stanway agreed the demand for rental properties was well in excess of the supply.

Agents were finding rental properties were often snapped up the day they were listed and often dealt with 10 to 20 interested groups for each, he said.

One possible reason was that some investors had sold their properties last year when there was a high demand from first-home buyers wanting to get into the market before the lending restrictions came in which meant they were no longer available to rent, he said.

Not only was there a shortage of properties but an increase in the number of people wanting to move into the area, he said.

“Over the last few years there have been a number of people who have rented their property out when they’ve gone overseas. They are now coming back.”

Tips for making a good impression when applying to rent a property
• Treat it like a job interview
• Get dressed up
• Fill in the application neatly
• Make sure your children are on their best behaviour
• Make sure your current property is neat and tidy
• Be honest