More houses but rents high

SARAH-JANE O'CONNOR
Last updated 05:00 16/01/2014

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Trade Me is advertising more Christchurch rental properties, but a tenancy advocate says the pressure on the local market has not been relieved.

Latest numbers from Trade Me property show that in the last three months of 2013 there were 1000 more rental listings than at the same time in 2012.

Trade Me Property acting head Jimmy McGee attributed the 24 per cent increase to the "rebuild phenomenon", which he said "continues to drive listings growth and rent increases in the city".

Tenants Protection Association advocate Lisa Coulter said the association did not know the number of properties in the rental stock, but said that people were still struggling to find places to live at reasonable prices.

The association was agitating for rent stabilisation to "slow down the speed with which prices are going up", Coulter said.

"It's very difficult for people from all walks of life to afford the rent."

Short-term expensive rentals appeared to drive Canterbury's average rent to the highest in the country, at $535 a week.

"We're still seeing a significant proportion of short-term, high-rent listings driving the market as displaced home owners move out for insurance repairs," McGee said.

Yesterday, there were 1265 Canterbury rental properties listed on Trade Me. Of these, 12 per cent were advertised for more than $1000 a week, while a further 8 per cent were advertised for between $800 and $1000.

The biggest growth in the number of listed rentals in Christchurch was in the city centre with 419 rentals listed, 37 per cent more than at the end of 2012. St Albans and Merivale followed with 331 and 219 listings respectively, increases of 12 and 9 per cent.

Christchurch also had the largest jump in rent, with an increase of 20 per cent compared to the end of the previous year, possibly also driven by costly short-term rentals. Nationally, the increase in rent was 6 per cent.

Trade Me figures indicate the asking price for advertised rentals, which may not reflect the rent actually paid. In last year's census, the mean rental price in Christchurch was $300 a week, up from $200 in 2006, an increase of 36 per cent.

First Avenue property manager Karla Hobson said the company had more properties coming in for rent, but they are "going quickly as well".

With an increased number of properties, tenants had more choice and would be less at the whim of landlords.

"I think it will pull [rents] more into line."

Harcourts business manager Nigel Bowden thought the apparent increase in Trade Me listings might be linked to properties being put up with excessive prices.

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Before the earthquakes, Bowden said that at any one time there were "probably no more than a dozen properties for more than $1000".

- © Fairfax NZ News

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