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More robust tenant selection processes are needed

By Paul Lochore FREINZ

June 2016

More robust tenant selection processes are needed for Housing NZ eligibility

Why does Housing NZ continue to rent houses to no-hopers? Such as those tenants who use their taxpayer-subsidised house to use or cook P (Meth). Or those tenants who don’t look after their house and turn it into a slum.

Why provide cheap subsidised houses to people who don’t appreciate them? Yes, of course, every person has the fundamental right to a roof over their head, but shouldn’t it be provisional on them meeting specified standards of basic house maintenance and cleanliness?

We taxpayers are spending millions every year on testing Housing NZ houses for P contamination and undertaking decontamination.

In April 2016 NewsHub reported that Housing NZ was spending almost $1 million per month on testing and cleaning up state houses contaminated with methamphetamine (P) – a bill that was fast ballooning.

How is it possible for state rentals to become contaminated over a long period? Is Housing NZ not undertaking regular inspections?

In a new Housing NZ development in Christchurch just over a year after construction was completed, 25% of the homes were discovered to be contaminated with P. And, what’s even scarier, in most instances the tenants were single mothers with young kids. Were Housing NZ staff and the Ministry of Social Development missing in action that this could happen on their watch?

Everybody loses, particularly the poor children exposed to P. And then there’s the bill footed by taxpayers for the clean-up. That’s money that could be better spent on new properties, to help needy families who are prepared to live and act responsibly in their subsidised homes. It can cost between $600 and $1800 to test a home for methamphetamine residue and up to $30,000 for Housing NZ to decontaminate a property.

According to the NZ Law Society, ‘Contamination in state homes or houses used for rental purposes is particularly prevalent in New Zealand. In 2014 there were 101 state houses contaminated with methamphetamine out of 196 that were tested by Housing New Zealand.’

Fast forward to today when around 486 Housing NZ properties are empty due to P contamination. It beggars belief.

Questions have to be asked about the robustness of Housing NZ’s tenant selection process when this figure is so high.

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