Rental prices surge higher

Christchurch's rent prices continue to climb, with low supply and high demand leaving slim pickings for would-be tenants.

New Trade Me property figures show city rents rose 25 per cent, demand went up 38 per cent, and supply dropped 21 per cent in the third quarter of 2012, compared with the same period last year.

The average asking rent is now $421 a week, compared with $337 a year ago.

The figures show little improvement from the second quarter of 2012, when Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee called the numbers a "very positive story for Christchurch".

At that point there were 786 properties listed for rent on Trade Me.

Demand increased 13 per cent since the last quarter and the number of properties listed for rent is now 640.

Brownlee was not available for comment yesterday.

Trade Me property head Brendon Skipper said the rising demand put landlords in "a strong position to ask top dollar" and he expected the trend to continue.

Real Estate Institute of New Zealand representative Tony McPherson said the market was "getting pretty tight again".

A reasonable three-bedroom Christchurch home was now hard to find for under $400 a week, which had "quite an impact on someone on a modest salary", he said.

According to the Trade Me figures, Merivale had the biggest price spike compared with July-September last year. The average asking rent rose from $356 to $473 a week (33 per cent).

Linwood was the most in-demand with inquiries up 124 per cent, followed by the city centre (97 per cent) and St Albans (63 per cent). The average asking rent for Linwood increased from $256 to $302 per week (18 per cent).

Linwood resident and Hagley-Ferrymead Community Board deputy chairwoman Islay McLeod said people moving out of the nearby red zone or TC3 properties were driving the rental demand in the area, as they wanted to live close to their children's schools.

"The biggest hurdle is the bond. People can make the rent but they haven't got savings of that amount," McLeod said.

Labour leader David Shearer said the Government should intervene.

Landlords could not be relied upon to show "humanity" rather than drive prices up, he said. The first step was to acknowledge there was a problem.

The Government could invest in social housing alongside the Christchurch City Council or buy more land for building new homes, he said.

The Press