Christchurch facing accommodation crisis - REINZ

BUSINESSDESK: Christchurch is facing an accommodation “crisis” with virtually no rental properties available, putting the reconstruction effort in jeopardy, according to the Real Estate Institute.

A survey by the real estate lobby group found two-thirds of real estate agents in the city, managing some 11,500 houses, needed to relocate tenants so repairs on earthquake-damaged property can be carried out, REINZ said in a statement. About 41 percent of those agents are finding it “impossible” and a further 44 percent say it’s “very difficult” to place local homeowners for short-term stays.

“There is a need for a circuit breaker if the rebuild of homes is to be carried out efficiently,” REINZ Canterbury regional director Tony McPherson said. “Without it the rebuild is in jeopardy causing further frustration, delay and unnecessary stress on Christchurch people who now want to get on with their lives.”

Last year, Prime Minister John Key and Earthquake Reconstruction Minister Gerry Brownlee announced an offer to residents in the ‘red zone’ to either sell property and land to the Crown at a pre-September valuation, or sell the land only to the government leaving the resident to deal with the insurer.

REINZ’s McPherson said there’s growing pressure on rental accommodation in the city as people are forced out of the red zone, while at the same time the reconstruction workforce fills up temporary accommodation.

“A greater allocation of short-term rental accommodation by the Earthquake Commission or the Department of Building and Housing would assist,” McPherson said. “Alternatively, finding solutions for the temporary workers who are moving into Christchurch would relieve the pressure.”

Earlier this month, CERA boss Roger Sutton told Parliament’s finance and expenditure committee the authority wants to flood the market with 26,000 sections in the coming year.

That comes as Christchurch property values continue to rise, according to last month’s Quotable Value figures, and ASB’s housing confidence survey shows house price inflation expectations are greatest in the country’s second-biggest city.

McPherson said people typically need to move out of their home for three to four weeks for major repairs to be completed, and “in many cases it is impossible to do the work with people still resident and when residents do tough it out, it causes delay and adds to the cost.” 

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