Landlords stunned at low response

LIZ MCDONALD
Last updated 05:00 21/06/2012
Mark Marcijasz
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ

NOT WANTED: Mark Marcijasz outside a five-bedroom Huntsbury house he advertised to rent at $450 a week. No-one called.

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Where are all the desperate tenants?

That is the question some Christchurch landlords are asking as they struggle to rent their houses.

While a shortage of cheaper homes in the city is attracting attention, mid-priced and dearer houses are sitting empty.

Mark Marcijasz got "not one call" when he advertised a five-bedroom Huntsbury house, complete with five heat pumps, for short-term rental at $450 a week.

"I'm totally flabbergasted that the phone didn't ring once," he said.

"It's a nice house. There's some external damage, but it's perfectly livable and warm.

"We're not trying to price-gouge. We just thought it would see people through the rest of the winter."

In nearby Cashmere, Michael de Lautour took nearly three months to find tenants for a three-bedroom, north-facing house and had to reduce the asking rent from $480 to $430 to secure a tenant last week.

"People talk about rents going up but we're actually worse off. It was easier to rent before the earthquakes," he said.

De Lautour's house has exterior damage, but he said it was in good condition inside and had been repaired and had a heat pump.

He said there was a "total over-supply" of homes in some parts of the market, and the Government's $330 subsidy for displaced families had created a threshold, especially for tenants still paying a mortgage on their damaged homes.

Another landlord, David Cary, has been advertising a three-bedroom Sumner house for $385 a week, with no takers.

Despite having a double garage and a heat pump, being located near a school and with a lack of quake damage, the house has sat vacant for more than five weeks.

"I'm not trying to make a killing. I thought it would be ideal for someone and there'd be no dramas renting it," Cary said.

"I've never had this problem in the years I've had rentals; certainly not for this length of time."

Browsing listings on the TradeMe website reveals the imbalance in the market, with 693 Christchurch homes advertised yesterday at rents of over $300 a week and only 190 at under $300 a week. Some dearer homes have been listed for several months.

Property manager Agnes White, of Rosevear Wing and Associates, said the rental market was mixed, with shortages of cheaper homes, furnished houses and homes in some school zones.

Otherwise, there were "plenty of houses out there."

Some tenants had ruled out the east side of town because of cracked houses and neighbourhoods perceived as damaged.

White advised landlords with vacant houses to make sure homes were warm and in good condition.

If there was nothing wrong, the only options were to either wait or reduce the rent, she said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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