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Rent suspended for HNZC tenants affected by earthquake

Hon Phil Heatley
Minister of Housing

27 February 2011 Media Statement

Rent suspended for HNZC tenants affected by earthquake

Housing New Zealand is to suspend the rent for about 2500 of its tenants living in those areas of Christchurch most affected by the Christchurch earthquake, Housing Minister Phil Heatley announced today.

As an immediate measure, Housing New Zealand will reduce the rent to zero of all state housing tenants in 32 suburbs. This rent relief will last for a period of three weeks, and will be backdated to February 22. It will apply to about 2500 properties, and any rent already paid by tenants in these areas since the earthquake will be repaid to them.

"More than 18,000 people live in Housing New Zealand’s 6000 homes in Christchurch. Many of these people are vulnerable and have limited financial means. The rent suspension Housing New Zealand has announced today will provide immediate relief to those likely to be living in the worst conditions in homes most affected by the quake," Mr Heatley said.

"This is an interim measure to give Housing New Zealand time to understand the scope of damage to its properties, and the circumstances of its tenants.
"Housing New Zealand is bringing 4WD vehicles down on the HMNZS Canterbury this weekend, and will be flying in property inspectors and tenancy managers throughout the next few weeks to visit every state home to assess the welfare of tenants, and damage to properties. Those inspections started last week.

"Tenants found to be in properties that are uninhabitable will be immediately moved to alternative accommodation.

"Tenants in properties that are inhabitable but without major services, such as power, water or sewerage or significant damage will pay only half rent after the three week relief period expires, until services are restored and damage repaired. These tenants will also be given the opportunity to move to alternative accommodation if they choose.

"Properties with services, and without major damage will return to full rent following the relief period,” Mr Heatley said.

"For those tenants outside of the worst affected areas in Christchurch, rent relief will also be offered but on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances of tenants and the state of properties in those areas. In all cases rent relief will be backdated to February 22,” Mr Heatley said.
"For those tenants in the areas identified below who feel they cannot remain in their home because of the earthquake, even though it may be undamaged, rent will not be charged for the period they are not in their home, provided they notify Housing New Zealand. Any other Christchurch tenant who does not feel they want to stay in their home should contact HNZC who will consider their request on a case-by-case basis.

"Housing New Zealand is doing all it can to assist its own tenants, but also to help find emergency accommodation for anyone displaced by the earthquake. To date, more than 80 people have been matched to emergency accommodation in the community, and staff are working constantly through welfare centres, phone lines and the internet to provide options to others in need," Mr Heatley said.
"At present the offers of temporary accommodation significantly exceed demand, but we expect this will change as more homes in Christchurch are inspected by the Council and short term arrangements with friends and family come to an end."

The suburbs where rent will be reduced to zero are:

Key Numbers:
• Housing New Zealand tenants with questions about rent relief, or damage to their home, or who wish to inform Housing New Zealand about their whereabouts following the earthquake, should phone 0800 801 601 or go to www.hnzc.co.nz
• Anyone needing emergency accommodation following the earthquake, or anyone offering emergency accommodation to those affected by the earthquake, should phone 0800 HELP 00, visit a welfare centre in Christchurch, or go to www.housinghelp.govt.nz

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