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School housing to be retained for key areas

7 November 2003
Media Statement

School housing to be retained for key areas

School housing will continue to be retained for its original purpose of helping recruitment and retention of teachers and principals in remote or hard-to-staff areas where housing availability is a problem, Education Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The Ministry of Education has completed the first review of the school housing policy in 50 years.

“Approximately 1,365 school houses, or two-thirds of the current stock, will continue to be available where houses are currently provided for principals and in isolated and hard-to-staff areas or areas with few rental houses. These will be the core school houses,” Trevor Mallard said.

“The school housing policy means that houses for principals and those in remote rural areas will remain available for teachers and principals.

“The review was long overdue. We’ve got cases where the taxpayer is paying for houses that are empty, used by private tenants and where there is plenty of other rental accommodation available.

“The new policy takes into account feedback from a consultation process with the sector.

“For example, non-core school houses will not be disposed of if they are tenanted by a teacher, houses attached to residential special schools will all be classed as core houses, and we have decided that rents will not move to market rents. We are also offering an alternative management scheme for schools that could face a financial loss if they managed core houses.

“Non-core houses won’t be sold if the school demonstrates that they are needed for a teacher or principal.

“Under the new policy, the Ministry of Education will pay the PAYE tax liability for all existing tenancies where rents are below market rates. Schools will also be able to retain 50 per cent of the net sale proceeds.”

Approximately 700 or 30 per cent of the school houses aren’t used by teachers and are either vacant or privately tenanted. Only 4 per cent of the 35,000 teachers benefit from the school housing policy.

Approximately 700 school houses that are in urban and semi-urban areas and/or where there are a lot of rental properties will be progressively released for sale and the savings reinvested back into education.
It is estimated that the savings will amount to about $40 million over three years.

Rents for schools houses have been reviewed for the first time in more than a decade. They will remain discounted by 25 per cent of market rates, and increases for some existing tenants will be phased in over several years.

“Rents for school houses are very low and will remain significantly lower than market rents. For example 60 per cent of rents will be less than $100. The comparable average private sector rent is about $195 a week,” Trevor Mallard said.

A fact sheet is attached and background information is available on
www.minedu.govt.nz/propertymanagement/housing

Fact Sheet
Ministry of Education School Housing Policy - November 2003


- This is the first review of school housing for more than 50 years.

- The government has a range of recruitment and retention measures for hard to staff schools such as teacher supply allowances and grants.

- School housing will remain an extra recruitment and retention device.

- Approximately 1,365 school houses will be available where houses are currently provided for principals and in isolated and hard to staff areas that have thin rental markets and housing availability is a problem. These will be core school houses.

- The core housing portfolio will comprise of approximately 900 existing principal houses and 465 existing teacher pool houses.

- Approximately 700 school houses that are in urban and semi-urban areas and/or where there are a lot of rental properties will be progressively released for sale and the savings reinvested back into education. These will be non-core school houses.

- Current principal and teacher tenants in non-core school houses will not be required to move.

- The Ministry of Education will work with the boards of trustees that have non-core houses about when houses will be reviewed for disposal.

- Houses won’t be sold in the event a principal or teacher tenant moves out - if the school can demonstrate the house is immediately required for another principal or teacher tenant.

- Schools will be able to retain 50 per cent of the net sale proceeds. Schools will have the first option of purchase if they want to buy the house. Schools that release non-core houses by 15 December 2003 will receive 40 per cent of the net sale proceeds upfront.

- Schools will be able to retain all of the rent for the core houses they manage.

- An alternative management scheme will be available to schools that currently don’t manage their core houses, and/or for schools where service tenancy rents are less than $50/week (in some cases this is the point where expenses would be more than rent received).

- The review does not affect caretaker houses.

- Only 4 per cent of 35,000 teachers benefit from the school housing policy.

- Rents for school houses are very low and have stayed the same for 13 years.

- Rents will remain discounted by 25 per cent, and be significantly cheaper than market rents.

- All new tenancies will be at the discounted rents.

- The new rents for existing tenancies will take effect by February 2004.

- For about 20 per cent of existing tenants their rent will progressively increase to the service tenancy rents.

ENDS

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