The Government is moving towards tighter regulation of rental properties, with the Healthy Homes Guarantee Act set to roll out next year.
Currently all social housing, managed by Housing New Zealand, is required to have underfloor and ceiling insulation, and the private sector will be too by July 2019.
Tenants Protection Association advisor Lisa Coulter said the tighter regulation was a step in the right direction, but the state of Christchurch homes was "embarrassing, and causing people harm".
Coulter said she had heard lots of horror stories from the estimated hundreds, if not thousands, of unhealthy homes in the city.
"There are some shocking houses in Christchurch."
She defined an unhealthy home as one that had a negative impact on a tenant's physical, mental or spiritual wellbeing.
"A lot of people now are just living in absolutely horrible housing, and they're really struggling, not only because of the condition of the home, but they feel bad that they can't provide a nice home for the rest of their family."
Coulter said many families stayed put in unhealthy homes due to legal and financial constraints. To move house, people had to come up with a bond, letting fee, and in some cases, rent in advance. This, paired with the price of moving their possessions, could cost thousands.