Christchurch rents buck national trend with 6 per cent fall

Riccarton tenants William Wallace, left, and Ed Carvell are happy with their home - and how much they pay for it.
IAIN McGREGOR/FAIRFAX NZ

Riccarton tenants William Wallace, left, and Ed Carvell are happy with their home - and how much they pay for it.

Tenants in Canterbury are the only ones in the country enjoying falling rents.

While the rest of the country has seen residential rents rise about 5 per cent, with double-figure amounts in some places, Canterbury's more plentiful supply of homes has seen rents fall about 6 per cent in the past year.

The data comes from homes rented by property managers and private landlords through Trade Me.

The biggest rent rise was 19.7 per cent in Marlborough, which Trade Me Property head Nigel Jeffries attributed to workers arriving for earthquake-repair work.

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In Wellington, a rental shortage is seeing dozens lining up for flat viewings and forcing some tenants into tents.

"The situation in the Garden City could not be more different to the rest of New Zealand," said Jeffries.

Christchurch's changing rental market since the quakes had been "been a rollercoaster ride for the city, as the rebuild activities continue to send ripples through the market".

Riccarton tenant Ed Carvell, a University of Canterbury commerce student, said he appreciated the lower rents when he moved from Auckland to Christchurch last year. He paid $350 a week to share a two-bedroom home up north – now he pays $130 a week sharing with four flatmates. 

"No-one here seems to have an issue with the rents and everyone seems to find flats relatively easily."

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 He described their Elizabeth St townhouse as "modernish, with a backyard". The home was not cold in the winter, except for in the mornings, he said.

"We're in a great situation. I came from paying just extortionate rents to this."

According to Trade Me, the median weekly rent in Christchurch city fell by $100, or 20 per cent, between February 2015 and February 2017.

The biggest drop in rents on Trade Me in the past year have been for units, townhouses and apartments, where the median rent of $350 is 6.7 per cent down on a year ago. For free-standing homes, the average rent of $395 was down 6 per cent per cent in the same period.

Government bond figures show rents in Christchurch peaked in early 2015 after climbing since the quakes. Both prices and rents have flattened or fallen as homes in the city have been repaired or rebuilt. Homes are taking longer to sell and to lease.

Within the city, the highest median rent now is in Ilam-Westburn ($455) and the cheapest is is Addington ($285), according to the bond data. Landlord's gross returns range from 3 per cent to 6 per cent, depending on location.

New Zealand's dearest centres for tenants, Auckland, Queenstown and Wellington, all have weekly median rents of over $500. The cheapest parts of the country are several provincial areas with weekly rents under $180.

CHRISTCHURCH MEDIAN RENTS

Unit - $300

House (one to two bedrooms) - $340

Apartment - $349

Townhouse - $400

House (three to four bedrooms) - $440

House (five plus bedrooms) - $605

Source: Trade Me

 - Stuff

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