Christchurch rents out of reach

ASHLEIGH STEWART AND CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 16/12/2013

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Affordable housing is being pushed out of reach for most of Christchurch's most vulnerable residents as the number of pricey rentals across the city soars.

Fairfax Media has compared the number of rentals in different price ranges using Census data from 2006 and 2013.

It showed the high end of the Christchurch rental market has expanded dramatically, while the bottom end of the market collapsed. 

Across the city, the percentage of rentals in the $200 to $299 price range fell from 40 per cent of all homes in 2006 to 26 per cent in 2013.

The percentage of homes in the $300 to $399 range rose from 12 per cent to 32 per cent, and from 3 per cent to 11 per cent in the $400 to $499.

The number of rentals costing more than $500 a week skyrocketed city-wide, especially in the more affluent suburbs.

In Linwood, the number of rentals in the $100 to $199 price range decreased from 729 to 258 between 2006 and 2013.

The number in the $300 to $399 bracket increased from 69 to 225.

Aranui's rentals in the $300 to $399 price range rose from nine to 114 - a 1167 per cent increase. 

Tenants Protection Association manager Helen Gatonyi said a more comprehensive set of data needed to be accumulated before any definitive conclusion could be drawn, but it was clear ''people are now not able to afford to live, even in the poor areas''.

Rising rents in poor suburbs could be due to people being forced to move there after other suburbs became too expensive, she said.

While the earthquakes had added to the housing strain, Gatonyi said problems existed in the city's rental market before the earthquakes, as tenants had little security of tenure.

Renters spoken to by Fairfax Media said they had experienced numerous increases in the past few years.

One Bishopdale resident faced a $20 rent increase every three months because ''other rentals are skyrocketing''.

Sara Foroti's two-bedroom Woolston home has leapt from $200 to $290 a week in a few years.

''It's really hard because everything's going up like food and things, but I've got two kids as well,'' she said.

Ariana Gifford's three-bedroom house in Linwood was $260 a week when she moved in in May 2011.

She now pays $340 and was expecting it to ''go up to $400 any time now''.

''I live on a strict budget as many people do and with rent prices it is really starting to be impossible,'' she said.

Real Institute of New Zealand regional director Tony McPherson said anecdotal evidence showed increases were ''across the board''.

Landlords facing insurance and rates rises and a stronger market were feeling the heat too, he said.

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The best solution was increasing housing supply, rather than imposing restrictions on landlords that might prompt investors to leave the market. 

- The Press

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