15 Jan 2014

Christchurch rents still going up

8:25 pm on 15 January 2014

Rents in Christchurch continue to rise but availability has also jumped, offering a first sign that the market could be beginning to ease.

Figures released by TradeMe show the number of Christchurch rental properties advertised on the site rose by 24% in the December quarter compared with a year earlier.

Average rents in the earthquake-hit city were up by 20% in the December quarter, a fall from the 25% year-on-year figure of the previous quarter.

TradeMe head of commercial Jimmy McGee said the large year-on-year increases seem to be tapering off.

He said the greater availability of rental homes seems to be driven by repaired and rebuilt properties coming back on the market, such as in the central city where availability increased by 37%.

However, Mr McGee added many of these properties are being offered only for short-term rent.

Nationally, listings fell by 2% in the December quarter while rents rose 6%. In Wellington, the number of rental properties sank 17% and rents rose 3%.

Long-term renters struggling

A tenants' advocate says despite a big increase in rental properties in Christchurch, people are still struggling to find long-term homes at an affordable price.

Lisa Coulter from the Tenants Protection Association says many of the homes are being offered as short-term rentals.

Ms Coulter says the association is constantly getting calls from people whose rental has been ended, as the landlord chases higher rent with short-term leases. Others are also accepting rent increases in a bid to hold on to their lease.

A property manager from Holmwood Property Management says she only deals with long-term rentals and sometimes sees up to 50 people at an open home.

Bridgette Tapley says she is hearing from many landlords who have tried short-term rentals, but have found they have unexpected extra costs and are more stressful than long-term agreements.