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Housing New Zealand suspends 75 former tenants

Housing New Zealand suspends 75 former tenants

Housing New Zealand has suspended 75 former tenants from applying for a state house since the introduction of its suspensions policy a year ago, Housing Minister Phil Heatley said today.

The policy, introduced on 30 November 2011, allows Housing New Zealand to suspend former tenants from applying for a state house for one year after their tenancy ends, as a result of serious breaches of their tenancy agreement.

“The policy applies only to the most serious breaches – such as unlawful or anti-social behaviour, fraud or significant vandalism, not one-off incidents like breaking a window, or missing a rent payment,” Mr Heatley said.

“Neighbours are sick of some of the behaviour that they have had to put up with and we know that a strong line on this is very welcome in our communities.

“Housing New Zealand is the country’s largest landlord. It has a responsibility to ensure its tenants are safe and secure in the neighbourhoods they’re in. That also means tenants have an obligation to behave responsibly and respectfully.

“The suspensions policy allows Housing New Zealand to protect its tenants and staff from unlawful or anti-social behaviour.”

Of the 75 people suspended, 64 were for fraud, four were for anti-social behaviour and seven were for unlawful activity.

Background

Tenants may be suspended if they:

· lie about their circumstances to get or keep a state house or rent subsidy

· intimidate or harm other people

· sublet their state house to other people

· repeatedly refuse or fail to pay their rent

· run up large debt (such as for damages to the house)

· substantially damage a state house

· use a state house as a base for criminal activities.

Under the policy, visitors to state houses can also be suspended from applying for a state house for a year, if they were responsible for the serious tenancy breach.

The suspensions policy is linked to the Encouraging Good Neighbour Behaviour policy, which encourages the tenants to be good neighbours.

The suspensions process

Housing New Zealand follows a fair and transparent process when considering suspending a tenant’s eligibility for state housing. Housing New Zealand must take into consideration the needs of any dependent children and works closely with other agencies including Child Youth and Family, where a suspension decision may affect dependants.

People being considered for suspension are given the opportunity to put their side of the story to Housing New Zealand. They also have the right to apply for an internal review of the decision to suspend them.

Those suspended may apply to have the suspension from eligibility waived if they can prove housing-related hardship. To support their waiver application, they are encouraged to demonstrate a commitment to change their behaviours or circumstances that led to the suspension. A commitment to co-operate will help determine whether or not they can sustain a new tenancy with Housing New Zealand.

They can also request a review of the waiver decision and make an appeal to the State Housing Appeals Authority if they apply for a waiver of their suspension and this is declined. This appeal will be based on the grounds for declining the waiver.

Numbers of suspensions by region with reasons

Region

Number of suspensions since November 2011

Reason for suspension

Examples

Whangarei and Far North

2

Fraud

Sub-letting a state house

Auckland

51

Fraud, anti-social behaviour and illegal activity

Sub-letting a state house; providing false information during needs assessments; undeclared partner; illegal activity including supply of drugs and possession of an unregistered sawn-off shotgun; anti-social behaviour including assault on neighbours

Hamilton/Waikato

5

Fraud

Sub-letting a state house

East Cape

1

Fraud

Undeclared partner

Hawke’s Bay

2

Fraud

Undeclared income; undeclared partner and their income

Whanganui

2

Fraud

Undeclared partner

Wellington

7

Fraud

Sub-letting a state house; undeclared partner

Christchurch

5

Fraud

Undeclared income, undeclared partner and sub-letting a state house


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