Families turned away as shortage worsens

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 14/12/2012

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Christchurch rental agencies are turning away overseas workers and local families as a fresh shortage of homes and rent rises hits the city.

While the crisis early this year was at the bottom end of the market, agents report the problem now is a severe lack of mid-priced family homes.

Philip Kennard of Kennard Real Estate said tenant demand in the past few weeks was the strongest he had ever seen, and landlords selling up was worsening the shortage.

"There's just a huge under-supply, the lowest in my recollection. I've never seen it this bad and all the three-bedroom stand-alone houses are full.

"We are getting a lot of inquiries coming in from overseas workers that we cannot satisfy - immigrant skilled workers from South Africa, England, Ireland, Scotland. And people that had left coming back."

Kennard said rents were rising and he expected that to continue next year.

Three-bedroom homes in Hornby were now $400 a week, up from $300 to $350 earlier in the year, he said.

Harcourts Accommodation Centre owner Patricia Bowden said that after a lull of a few months, the market "just took off" in November.

"We are getting emails daily from people arriving, people like engineers, draftsmen and managers."

Bowden said the highest demand was for family homes near schools in the $300 to $600-a-week bracket, especially in the north-west of the city, and vacancy rates on their books were less than 1 per cent.

Both agents said this time of year was usually quiet for rental agencies, but even students were looking already and things would get worse after Christmas.

Property manager Tony Brazier said his stock was full and he believed the city needed new solutions quickly to prevent overseas workers pushing local tenants out.

"The middle management guys are here, but when those companies start swinging the hammer next year there will be a whole lot of single guys.

"Every year there's another layer of families struggling because the rents have gone up, and we don't need any more pressure".

To encourage homeowners to take in single workers as boarders, Brazier has just launched a "lodger pack" with a six-page contract and advice for both parties.

Figures from the Real Estate Institute based on November bonds paid to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment show median rents have been rising.

Rents have risen in the past year by between 8 per cent and 18 per cent in most Christchurch suburbs.

THREE-BEDROOM RENTALS

Suburb/area: median rent (annual rise)

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Halswell to Broomfield: $385 (+10%)

Avonhead: $400 (11%)

Burwood-Avondale-Brighton: $352 (8.3%)

Linwood-Bromley: $320 (8.5%)

Redwood: $400 (17%)

Riccarton: $420 (21%)

St Albans: $392 (9.7%)

Kaiapoi-Rangiora: $355 (10%)

Ashburton: $310 (14%)

Timaru: $260 (4%)

TWO-BEDROOOM RENTALS

Central city: $335 (13.5%)

Sydenham-Woolston: $280 (12%)

Riccarton: $310 (11%)

Burwood-Avondale-Brighton: $271 (13%)

Addington-Hoon Hay: $290 (9.5%)

- © Fairfax NZ News

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