Housing NZ evictions

The Herald reports:

Housing New Zealand applied to evict 4 per cent of its tenants in the year to June.

The state agency has told the Herald, in response to an Official Information Act request, that it applied to the Tenancy Tribunal to end 2247 tenancies in the year to June last year, and 2591 in the latest year.

The latest number is 4 per cent of its 65,543 state rentals as at March this year – one in every 25 tenants, excluding homes rented to community groups.

Auckland Tenants Protection Association manager Dr Angela Maynard said the agency was effectively evicting people into homelessness because it was meant to be the housing agency of last resort.

“If you’ve been evicted from a house, the private sector doesn’t want to know you. Are they supposed to go on the streets?” she asked.

Housing NZ evicts tenants for basically two reasons only. Either they are refusing to pay their rent, or they are mistreating the property. If they get evicted, it is because they have chosen to behave in a way which leads to their eviction.

Almost all state house tenants have income related rents so it is no more than 25% of their income.

But Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said taxpayers would want the state agency to be “tough but fair”.

“Most people would want Housing NZ to have the wisdom of Solomon,” he said.

“You want them to be compassionate, particularly to tenants who might be pretty challenging to deal with, but also tough but fair when it comes to making sure, as a good landlord, that state house tenants are good neighbours and look after their houses.”

Twyford speaking sense on this.

“Housing NZ will only apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a tenancy as a last resort,” she said.

“For example, when a tenant falls behind in their rent their tenancy manager will contact the tenant to attempt to make a repayment arrangement.”

She said tenancy managers handed tenants to debt specialists if they fell more than 21 days behind in their rent. If a specialist could not arrange repayments the agency then sought mediation, and only went to the tribunal if mediation failed.

It is a last resort.

A man who has been partially disabled since a horrific truck accident a year ago is being evicted by Housing New Zealand because he didn’t declare income of almost $35,000.

Stuart Wilkinson, who turned 50 today, has lived for 14 years in a state house in the Christchurch suburb of Parklands with his wife Leeann and their two children now aged 18 and 15.

He said he spent his birthday “barricading” the house after a Tenancy Tribunal hearing last Wednesday ordered the termination of the tenancy and Housing NZ told him to leave the house ready for a final inspection by Housing NZ today.

“We have just barricaded ourselves in,” he said.

So he broke the law, committed fraud, and still has a sense of entitlement so strong he is barricading the house rather than accept the consequences of his fraud.

Housing NZ regional manager Jackie Pivac said her agency issued a 90-day eviction notice in May after the ministry told it that Wilkinson was being prosecuted.

She said Wilkinson then stopped paying rent, so the agency went to the Tenancy Tribunal to end his tenancy “immediately” and to recover $3519 in rent arrears.

Wilkinson confirmed that he did not declare income from work.

“I know it’s wrong,” he said.

And he has stopped paying rent, but still thinks he should be able to carry on there.

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