Christchurch rental market turns to favour tenants

Things are looking up for Christchurch tenants, with rents beginning to fall and more homes available.

Rental agencies say tenants are able to be more choosy and landlords in some cases are dropping rents.

The city’s average rent of $408 is down from $430 at the start of the year and back at late 2013 levels, according to the latest bond figures from the Ministry of Building Innovation and Employment.  The number of Christchurch rental homes listed on TradeMe has jumped from 600 to 1550 in a year.

Bernice Ireland, head of Quality Property Management, said tenants had a choice of homes and locations in their price bracket, whereas last year “they just had to grab what they could”.

“They don’t want cold, damp houses, and they don’t have to have them any more.

“There’s no longer the demand there was, and the supply is increasing every day. Quite a few landlords are now dropping the rent $10 or $20 rather than have their place sit empty.”

Janice Cowdy, director of property management for Cowdy and Co, said with so many Christchurch homes repaired and rebuilt, rental properties were taking longer to lease.

“The market has pulled back quite considerably, as have the rents. We are seeing a market like before the earthquakes.”

Most tenants were easily able to find a home to suit, although those with bad debts would struggle as landlords did not want them, Cowdy said.

Economist Robin Clements from UBS bank, said rents reflected the number of new and repaired homes available.

“Things are flattening out, as as supply matches demand.”

There was a “change in the mix of the market”.

“Fewer families are needing bigger homes while theirs are repaired, but migrant workers still arriving for the rebuild and maybe wanting smaller places.”

TradeMe spokesman Nigel Jeffries said the Christchurch rental market had “changed significantly” over the past year. From rising steadily in past years, the city’s rents were sitting flat for medium sized houses, had fallen for bigger houses, and risen slightly for smaller houses plus apartments and units, Jeffires said.

More than 20,000 new homes have been approved in Canterbury since the earthquakes, according to council consent figures.

The city with the highest rents is Auckland, where the average of about $495 is 20 per cent higher than Christchurch. The national average is just under $400, according to bond data.

Canterbury rents, April (source: REINZ, MBIE)

Two bedrooms

Linwood/Bromley $310

Sydenham/Woolston $350

Addington/Hoon Hay $362

Christchurch central $380

Riccarton $372

St Albans $340

Fendalton/Merivale $390

Burwood/Avonside/Brighton $327

Three bedrooms

Redwood $437

Burwood/Avonside/Brighton $427

Linwood/Bromley $420

Cashmere $450

Broomfield to Halswell $450

Fendalton/Merivale $530

Avonhead $450

St Albans $480

Riccarton $450

Kaiapoi/Rangiora $390

Ashburton $360

Timaru $350


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