Residents in the Christchurch suburb of Burwood, where a woman's body has been discovered, say the area has felt less safe since squatters started moving in.
Police were called to the house in Travis Road at 10.15am on Wednesday and later arrested and charged a 29-year-old Kaiapoi man with murder.
Officers are conducting a scene examination and have cordoned off two earthquake-damaged abandoned homes on one side of the house in the city's eastern suburbs.
Valerie Abrey lives next door and says many homes are now empty after being damaged in the February 2011 quake.
Ms Abrey says she feels less safe than she did when she moved there 26 years ago and now wants to leave.
Sonia Lyons, who lives close by, says squatters have taken over some empty houses, including the one she had to move out of after the quake.
Ms Lyons says there has been an increase in tagging and vandalism and it is sad for those who have lived in the area for a long time to see it go downhill.