Reports some landlords are hiking rents by as much as 150 per cent have been dismissed by the New Zealand Property Investors Federation as a malicious attempt to pressure the government into capping rent rises.
Christchurch mayor Bob Parker accused landlords who hiked rents of "looting by another name" last week after reports emerged that some were ramping up rents in a city where many people have been left homeless by last month's earthquake.
He said there was not much the council could do about it, but the Government might be able to look at some form of control.
Federation president and Christchurch property manager Martin Evans said he had not heard of anyone taking advantage of the earthquake with large rent increases.
"We don't know where these claims of 150 per cent rent increases have come from.
"It is malicious to make these claims in order to influence Government in an attempt to have rent controls imposed," said Evans.
Figures from TradeMe show Christchurch rental property listings fell 22 per cent on the Friday after the earthquake, and a further 12 per cent the following week, but have since increased by 18 per cent.
TradeMe's property manger Brendan Skipper said as of today there are 1045 rental properties advertised on the site.
Labour deputy leader Annette King said this week limiting increases in rents in Christchurch would stop residents being hit by profiteering landlords, but Skipper said he had not seen any evidence of such increases in Canterbury since the quake.
Evans said rental property providers were facing huge losses even if their properties were sound, because of the number of "nervous tenants" who were abandoning their homes following the earthquake.
"Tenants are leaving without telling us," Evans said adding that he only finds out when the tenant stops paying.
Compounding the problem for landlords and tenants was that the Department of Building and Housing office and the Tenancy Tribunal in Christchurch were not yet open, Evans said.
"We can't get eviction orders when properties are abandoned at a critical time when others are desperate for a rental property because their own home is uninhabitable.
"Given the extreme situation, we are forced to take matters into our own hands just to help people get housed and to stop our owners from losing any more money," Evans said.By Susie Nordqvist Email Susie