Housing New Zealand has four vacant houses in Canterbury but there are dozens of tenants on the waiting list with an immediate need for accommodation.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) says it's trying to match the vacant houses with urgent requirements.
There are 24 priority A state housing tenants in Canterbury on the HNZ waiting list.
The need of these applicants is assessed as being "at risk", which are households with a severe and persistent housing need.
A further 65 waiting priority B tenants are assessed as having a "serious" need for accommodation.
HNZ southern tenancy service manager Symon Leggett says although there is a waiting list, a person who has an urgent need for housing and fulfils the criteria can often be quickly accommodated.
"State rental properties are allocated on the basis of need not length of time on the waiting list, so some people who apply may reach the top of the list quickly," Mr Leggett said.
"The houses need to match the number of people that will be living in them, the requested location and sometimes a range of other personal needs. This means that while a house may be a poor fit for one tenant or family, it will work for another."
About 95 per cent of HNZ's 6117 houses in Canterbury were damaged in the earthquakes since September 2010, with 5375 houses now able to be occupied.
There are fast-tracked repairs on 212 vacant damaged properties and it's expected these will be done by the end of October.
Work will soon start on building between 200 and 350 new state houses over the next 18 months.