Central Otago residents are forking out ‘‘eye-watering’’ amounts to live in the region as rents skyrocket across the region.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) released its tenancy services rental bond data for January 2023 last week, revealing median rents in the region had reached $550.

This was up from $465 in December 2022.

The data comes from Tenancy Services’ tenancy bond database, which records all new rental bonds lodged with it each month.

Edinburgh Realty property manager Abi Barber, based in Cromwell, said rentals were in short supply in the town.

Ms Barber said she felt government changes to the management and owning of rental properties had impacted on the number of rentals available.

‘‘We’re seeing previous rental properties on the market that are then bought by people who are going to live in them.’’

Some people were moving out of Queenstown to live in the region and commute, which was making things even more competitive, she said.

Rents were increasing and while they had not reached Queenstown prices, ‘‘they were getting up there’’.

Rental appraisals presented to property owners would often be returned with a counter figure, as after mortgage payments and insurance, the minimum figure for them to meet costs was higher.

Ms Barber said she was aware of one new threebedroom, two-bathroom house listed to rent in the town that was on par with Queenstown prices, which could have the knock-on effect of others wanting to raise their prices to match.

‘‘Other owners are going to see that and question if they can get that ‘why can’t I’ and it’s going to start.’’

She was ‘‘inundated’’ with applicants but had nothing available for them.

‘‘It’s really tough — for one property I’m having about 20 applicants and you can’t have 20 applicants living under one roof so 19 very, very highly qualified applicants miss out because it is just madness.’’

Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean said rents across Central Otago had reached ‘‘eye-watering’’ heights and the region’s residents were ‘‘paying the price for poorly thought out housing policies’’.

‘‘The Government was warned that removing interest deductibility on rental properties and extending the bright-line test would raise rents, and this data shows that’s exactly what’s happened.’’

While median rents in smaller towns could fluctuate month to month due to the small number of rental properties being leased, the trend was clear across the region, she said.