Home ownership in New Zealand has been declining for the past 30 years, a fact that has been exacerbated more recently by rising inflation and the increased cost of living. As a result, an increasing number of older people rent.
While there are a variety of rental options that may suit your lifestyle and living situation, the biggest issue currently is a nationwide shortage of housing. There may be a big difference between what you would like and what you are able to obtain.
Whether you own your own home or rent, everyone deserves to live somewhere safe, dry, and able to be maintained at a healthy temperature. These features should be the bottom line for those who live in New Zealand. Wherever you live, put a high priority on them.
Private rentals account for the largest percentage of rental properties in New Zealand. As a result, there is a range of choices including standalone homes, townhouses, and apartments. Many private landlords will manage the rental property themselves, while others will employ a third-party property manager – such as a real estate company. Most rentals can be rented under short or long-term leases, as well as periodically (without an end date) or fixed term, giving the renter plenty of flexibility if they want to move on.
Rents are expensive in many parts of the country (particularly urban centres) and can be increased by landlords every 12 months. Plus, private rentals require a significant bond – usually around 4 weeks rent. To take advantage of a private rental you therefore need to have sufficient ‘up front’ finances to get started.
Comprehensive information including information about the responsibilities of tenants and landlords is available from Tenancy Services
"Community housing is a form of affordable housing working alongside private housing in the open market. Typically, community housing organisations are not-for-profit groups meeting housing need through a range of affordable rental and home ownership options. They provide an alternative to the public housing provided by Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand) and local authority housing." from: Community Housing Aotearoa. To find out more about options in your area (select members directory) visit the website
Some retirement villages provide rental accommodation – usually with the option of purchasing additional support. Retirement village rentals are not available in all regions of New Zealand – you can find villages that do offer the option via Eldernet.
Abbeyfield New Zealand is a charity that offers shared rental accommodation for people aged 55 and over. There are a limited number of Abbeyfield homes dotted around the country. They typically accommodate 10 – 14 residents in a communal, flatting-type situation. Residents are independent and have their own room or unit, often with shared communal areas. They may receive help with some tasks, such as housework or meals. Board or weekly rent usually applies – this is often more affordable than a private rental. This option can also be known as supported living or boarding. These homes are generally designed with accessibility in mind, so can accommodate wheelchairs, scooters, and mobility frames. Residents can access home help services if necessary. If a resident needed a higher level of support/care, they would need to move to more appropriate accommodation.
Subsidised rental options/Seniors Housing
There are a limited number of affordable rental properties for older people (generally aged 55-plus) and other low-income people throughout New Zealand. These are often referred to as pensioners flats or affordable senior’s public housing. Contact Kāinga Ora (previously Housing New Zealand), your local council or trusted religious/welfare organisation. In Auckland, for example, Haumaru Housing, an initiative between the Auckland City Council and Selwyn Foundation, manages several homes. As subsidised housing is generally clustered, tenants are often of a similar age and close enough to keep an eye on each other. Housing stock can be low, however, and there are strict criteria around assets, income and needs.
Whichever option you choose, check that it’s a home that suits an older person. Websites such as Lifemark and Goodhomes advise you to think about key features such as accessibility, adaptability, usability, suitability, safety and value. Goodhomes has a resource kit that helps people find and choose a rental property that is best for them.
Not sure if renting is for you? There may be other housing options however it is quite clear that the nationwide shortage of housing restricts your choices.
Find: Housing options