Driveway living forced by rent crisis

Auckland’s rent crisis is forcing would-be tenants to seek driveways and front yards as dwelling options.

Advertisements are being placed at supermarkets by people wanting to live in cars seeking ‘‘driveway and shower’’ arrangements.

One man posted a notice in an Albany supermarket seeking ‘‘a driveway for a man and his car’’.

He told the Herald he got the idea after watching the movie The Lady in the Van. The 2015 British comedy-drama is about Mary Shepherd, an elderly woman who lived in a dilapidated van on a driveway of a man’s house in London for 15 years.

The unemployed man, who gave his name only as Brendon, said he had been living in his car since June, after he was evicted by his landlord for failing to pay rent.

He did not have enough money for a new rental deposit and had a ‘‘bad credit rating’’.

He gets about $300 a week from Winz and is prepared to pay up to $100 to use bathroom facilities.

‘‘Such an arrangement means I can still get some basic home comforts like the toilet and warm showers, and the car is the roof over my head,’’ Brendon said.

‘‘Living on a driveway at someone’s home is also a far safer alternative than sleeping rough in a public place.’’

At Long Bay last month, he was robbed while he was sleeping in his Subaru station wagon.

At a Browns Bay supermarket, Frenchman Alban Morin also placed an ad looking for ‘‘a place with my car in your garden’’.

‘‘Just need a shower and kitchen,’’ Mr Morin said in the ad.

‘‘Will pay for it any prices (sic) reasonable.’’

The 25-year-old construction worker wrote that he would sleep in his car.

‘‘Auckland’s rent is really expensive and the pay in New Zealand is really low,’’ Mr Morin said. ‘‘With my minimum-wage job, I just cannot afford to pay it any longer.’’

He is paying $230 in weekly rent for a room in the city, but was planning to live in his car once he could find a driveway to park in.

University of Otago, Wellington, researcher Dr Kate Amore said the trend was a sign of ‘‘how difficult Auckland’s market is’’.

‘‘I have not heard of this happening anywhere else in New Zealand.’’

She said many people could not afford the huge cost involved with renting, ‘‘particularly when compared with people’s incomes.’’

At least one in 100 New Zealanders were homeless at the last census, and Dr Amore’s study found 10% of the homeless population were living in cars, on the street or in other improvised dwellings.

‘‘If you can get a driveway it then becomes a valid option, but it also highlights the urgent need for affordable housing,’’ she said.

‘‘But it is a sad symptom of how bad our housing system is if sleeping in your car on a driveway is considered a good option.’’

Dr Amore said the housing crisis was likely to deepen if there was no government action to develop a comprehensive housing strategy. 

Add a Comment

Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter