Christchurch rental woes to be surveyed

Thousands of Canterbury renters will be asked to share their stories as the Tenants Protection Association (TPA) determines whether there is a "housing crisis" in Christchurch.

As property experts continue to report high demand and low supply, the association hopes to collect "factual information" to back up anecdotal evidence.

TPA outreach worker Laura Gartner said that after hearing "horror stories and anecdotal information about renting issues", the association had decided to "gather data ourselves".

She said association staff would take the surveys to shopping centres, medical practices and community facilities in a bid to reach "as many renters across Canterbury as possible".

"We'll be asking about rent, increases, the quality and condition of the housing, some personal generic information, and also we're wanting people to tell us their story and see how renters and their families have been affected since the earthquake."

She said the rent issue had been "really heating up" in the past four to five months.

""We're really hoping this survey will give tenants a voice." Surveys would be collected over the next couple of months before the TPA analysed results.

"Then we'll target all government agencies responsible for housing," she said.

Harcourts Grenadier Accommodation Centre business manager Nigel Bowden said listing numbers last month were down by about half on previous years.

"We don't track demand the way we would have about five or 10 years ago, so it's difficult to say whether there's more applications, but we have had fewer listings in January than previous years."

A shortage of Housing New Zealand and Christchurch City Council-owned units was "having an effect" on the rental market.

The survey would help paint a "more complete picture", he said.

As of yesterday afternoon, there were 66 listings on Trade Me for rental properties in Christchurch priced between $200 and $300 a week, 146 listings between $300 and $400, but more than 180 listings for properties costing between $400 and $600. A further 150 properties were advertised at more than $600 a week.

Trade Me Property head Brendon Skipper welcomed the survey, saying Christchurch was stuck in a "typical supply-demand imbalance".

"I'm not surprised people are finding it hard to find rentals," he said. "Our latest quarterly results showed the average rent asking price was up 26 per cent, and demand increased by 22 per cent."

Tenants wanting to complete a survey can phone 379 2297, text 027 379 2297 or pick up a copy of the survey from the TPA office at 113 Tuam St. People can also email or go to the association's Facebook page.

The Press