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What’s happening in the Hamilton rental market in May 2020?

As we come into the second week of Level 2 it seems a good time to check in with the local rental property market. It was inevitable the lockdown restrictions and COVID-19 emergency rules would slow down the rental market, and create uncertainty for landlords, according to Hatch’s Senior Property Manager, Deborah Kay. Late in March the Government introduced a six-month freeze on residential rental increases and rules making it harder to terminate tenancies; initiatives that brought security to renters and concern to landlords. “Prior to lockdown, the Hamilton rental market was strong, with good growth,” says Deborah. “While it’s too early to see the impact of the rent freeze just yet, it’s likely to change the rental market and create a bit of concern around costs for landlords.” While there are challenges, including uncertainty around a potential 3.8% rates increase for Hamilton (announced in June 2019 and effective 1 July 2020) and around the economy more generally, economists suggest the Hamilton and Waikato economies are much more resilient than most. The final results of a combined Hamilton City and Waikato and Waipa District council bid for Crown funding of ‘shovel ready’ projects are to come, however at time of writing Waikato leaders have been told 18 of the region’s 23 proposed projects have made the first cut, with skilled workers expected to mobilise to successful infrastructure and construction projects. Alongside this, Micheal Bassett-Foss, CEO of Te Waka (Waikato’s Regional Development agency) welcomed the recent announcement of Hamilton as the headquarters of the newly formed New Zealand Institute of Skills & Technology NZIST* as “another big win” proving the city’s ongoing attractiveness to new business and investment. The latest Trade Me property data suggests that while restrictions at alert levels three and four meant that both landlords and tenants had to sit tight until they could move or advertise a property, rental property listings and inquiries for rentals are increasing with the loosening at alert level two. Equally, recent Tenancy Tribunal rulings on terminations for rental arrears of 60 days or more, go some way to addressing landlord concerns about operating under emergency conditions. Tribunal intervention usually indicates landlords and tenants have reached a point where they need assistance towards a workable outcome. “More than ever it’s important tenants and landlords use that rule of thumb and communicate with each other to navigate our new normal,” says Deborah. “The same applies to landlords steering their financial path. Talk to your bank. Check in with your local council about rates relief or payment plans. Ask questions; ask for help. Get advice. At Hatch we’re only too happy to help, whether you’re an existing Hatch client or not.” Contact Hatch on  http://www.hatchproperty.co.nz/contact/ *NZIST is the merger of the country’s polytechnics and industry training organisations into one national organization and expected to create 50 new jobs and bring other benefits to the city and region.