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Dossier Issued on Rent Striker - HNZ

Housing New Zealand

Media Release

Media background information on Len Parker

On May 10 of this year, the Tenancy Tribunal granted Housing New Zealand (HNZ) an order which took effect from June 1, giving the company possession of the tenancy currently held by Mr Parker. The Tribunal’s ruling followed a hearing at which Mr Parker and the Company gave evidence.

Mr Parker’s current rent at 249 Balmoral Road is $112 a week. He has been on a partial rent strike since 1993. He currently has arrears of $6,419.

HNZ facilitated meetings between Mr Parker and WINZ. Privacy provisions prevent HNZ having access to Mr Parker’s current financial position but the company understands that as a result of the meetings, WINZ reviewed his benefit entitlements, increased his weekly entitlement and granted him a lump sum payment of over $6,000. Mr Parker is also entitled to $10 per week disability allowance.

HNZ offered Mr Parker two alternative properties at $95 a week. Both properties had been newly decorated and both were at rental levels that brought Mr Parker’s rent closer to the 25% of income ceiling he has imposed (Mr Parker calculates the rent he pays using 25% of basic income, plus the Accommodation Supplement). He has declined both properties and said that he wishes to remain at 249 Balmoral Rd paying only $95 per week.

Mr Parker also rejected HNZ’s offer to reduce his lawn mowing costs at Balmoral Road, currently $10 a week. The company offered the services of one of its own contractors at $20 a month.

By refusing to pay his full rent, Housing New Zealand believes Mr Parker is failing to meet his obligations. This is unfair to other New Zealanders who are meeting their housing costs, on time and in full, regardless of living on benefits or bringing up families.

Housing New Zealand understands from media reports that Mr Parker does not intend to use any of the more than $6,000 paid to him by WINZ, to reduce or wipe his rent arrears.

Following his eviction, Mr Parker’s personal effects have been placed in secure storage. He has been asked to contact HNZ’s Mt Albert Area Manager to arrange for a mutually suitable time for these to be uplifted. He has also been given information on emergency housing in his area.

For Housing New Zealand to accept Mr Parker as a tenant, it would need to examine his personal circumstances to establish that he meets the company’s priority criteria for housing people in need. The company would also require an assurance that he would pay the full rental on any property rented as well as a contribution towards arrears.

Housing New Zealand has a policy of using eviction only as a last resort. The company has tried and exhausted all other avenues of persuasion and negotiation with Mr Parker. Eviction is now the only course open to the company.

The issue of market rents which Mr Parker claims is his reason for not paying his full rent, is a matter for the Government to comment on. HNZ complies with Government policy in charging market-related rents, leaving affordability issues to WINZ. It is important to point out that single people in greatest need may be eligible for up to $100 a week in Accommodation Supplement.

Mr Parker was one of 14 people who embarked on a partial rent strike in 1993. Currently, he is one of nine people who have continued the partial strike. The process of dealing with the rent strikers is time consuming and complex. The company has been successful in encouraging some to end their strike and continues to work with others to find an acceptable solution.

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