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Friday, March 11, 2011

Post Christchurch earthquake rent hikes 'looting by another name'

Post Christchurch earthquake rent hikes 'looting by another name'

Last updated 07:59 10/03/2011
Landlords who have hiked rents in the wake of the Christchurch earthquake have been branded looters by another name by Mayor Bob Parker.

In a stinging attack, Mr Parker said he was appalled by reports that some landlords in the city had boosted rents by up to 150 per cent.

"I think that's looting by another name. I just think that's appalling," he told TVNZ this morning.

"Sure, there will be market moves and shifts, but there are clearly cases of people ramping up rents to an unnecessarily high degree. It's destructive to our community and ultimately it's destructive to those people who engage in activities of that nature.

"There's not much we [the council] can do. I think the Government could certainly look at some form of control, but even that can create new distortions, and so the first appeal is just to the people who are doing it. Come on, you're in our community, This is looting by another name. You can't put this in a polite way. It shouldn't be happening. We're not going to get through this if people take that approach."

Mr Parker also insisted that Christchurch could still host the seven Rugby World Cup games scheduled for the city, brushing off concerns the stadium was too badly damaged to be repaired in time and that there would not be sufficient accommodation and other facilities to cope.

He said towns in the wider Canterbury region, including Timaru and Ashburton, could accommodate overseas fans, and he was confident AMI Stadium - which is due to host five pool games and two quarter-finals - would be ready in time for the September-October tournament.

The news that Prince William was travelling to Christchurch for next Friday's National Memorial Service would also send a signal that the city was safe and the games could go ahead.

"I think the issue really is around the confidence of teams that would need to come here ... Prince William coming here sends a message to the English team and other nations as well."

The city is due to host England, but the English Rugby Football Union would not say yesterday whether it was looking for a change in venue or whether its players were worried about playing in Christchurch.

A spokesman said it was inappropriate to talk about England's plans for the tournament "when so many people have lost loved ones".

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