Landlords cash in on Chch quakes

By Alex Mason

Aerial view of liquefaction and earthquake damaged houses in Burwood, Christchurch. Photo / Geoff Sloan.
Aerial view of liquefaction and earthquake damaged houses in Burwood, Christchurch. Photo / Geoff Sloan.

Christchurch landlords are cashing in on the earthquakes by putting up rents by as much as $250 a week - even for rundown bungalows.

Latest figures from Trade Me show that on average rents have increased by 25 per cent in the past year as demand soared by 38 per cent and the number of houses available to rent dropped 21 per cent.

The demand has been caused by people needing to move while their earthquake-damaged homes are repaired or rebuilt, red-zoned householders soaking up temporary accommodation, and the influx of rebuild workers from outside Christchurch.

Landlords are testing their tenancy agreements to the limit in a bid to increase rents as quickly as they can.

In one example a group of workers from Auckland have been told their rent will go up $250 a week to more than $600 for their rundown bungalow near AMI Stadium.

It was a "take it or leave it" offer, the tenants said.

The demand for housing in Linwood rose by 124 per cent from this time last year, while the number of available houses dropped by 42 per cent.

Property manager and co-owner of Looking 4 Rentals, Jo Arbuckle, said rent on three-bedroom homes in Linwood was between $300 and around $450 per week.

She said a fully furnished three bedroom rental with "a good garden" was going for $470. "That's at the top end [of the Linwood market]."

"We've only had the ad up since the start of the week and we've had three people apply.

"There are more and more people looking and less and less properties."

Ms Arbuckle said that in more desirable areas such as St Albans, rent was definitely higher, starting at around $400.

"We've got one on Springfield Rd, fully furnished, it's being rented for a short term for people having earthquake repairs and that's $750."

Ms Arbuckle said demand was so high people were "pre-booking" houses for when their homes underwent earthquake repairs.

Ms Arbuckle did not think landlords were necessarily being greedy by putting up their rent.

"It depends on what they're providing, to be honest. The rental market in Christchurch has been below the national standard for a long time," she said.

Department of Building and Housing data from June 2012 indicated an 18 per cent increase in average weekly rent on the previous year.

This compared to a 4 per cent national rise over the same period.

In July average weekly rents had dropped slightly to $334, still above the national average of $329.

- Christchurch Star

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