Moving to Christchurch to help out with the rebuild?
Take care when looking for rental accommodation.
According to a report by Stuff, owners of quake damaged properties that have been written off by insurance companies are selling off their investments for no more than the price of the section (land) rather than using insurance payouts to repair their homes.
Savvy investors are coming in to snap up the cut price wrecks and renting them out to tenants, seeing the potential for long term gains when the sites are stable enough to be redeveloped in the distant future. Some of the affected areas may surprise you they include upmarket Sumner and Avondale, Queenspark and the eastern suburbs.
What does this mean for migrants coming into the city? well, they’re unlikely t0 know where the damaged houses are, or the implications of living in one and could fall easy prey to unscrupulous investors. This may be something you’d expect to happen in a third world country, but in New Zealand?
The potential problems could range from weather-tightness issues (rainwater ingress, difficult to heat) and poor security to damaged sewage connections, ongoing liquefaction, shaky foundation etc. to a real risk that their temporary home could suffer further damage in an aftershock or new earthquake.
There is no indication in the article whether these homes have ever been assessed as fit for human habitation, there’s no “MOT” for homes in NZ before they’re considered suitable as rentals and once you’re in a long term rental contract it’s very difficult to get out from it without suffering large financial loses.
The message to you is this. If you’re emigrating to New Zealand to work in Christchurch and your employer has promised to assist you with accommodation be sure to ask if they’re going to place you in a quake damaged property. Get a written guarantee that you will be provided with safe, sound and habitable accommodation and that if the property is later found to have quake damage that interferes with your enjoyment of your home they will bear the costs of relocating you to a more suitable premises.
If you’re looking for accommodation yourself speak to the locals first and get the low-down on the areas to avoid and the pitfalls of living in a damaged home. Lastly, ask hard questions of the rental agents.
We’d like to hear from anyone who’s unwillingly moved into a quake damaged rental and is suffering as a result. Please leave comments at the bottom of this page.
You may also like to read
Landlords told to make homes liveable – “Some people think it’s OK to make a buck at any expense, but it’s not OK when your investment is more important than the wellbeing of citizens” (Stuff.co.nz 15 Jan 2013)