Cora's long wait for HNZ action

NICHOLAS BOYACK
Last updated 10:38 21/08/2012
HUTCoraweb
NICHOLAS BOYACK

Living rough: Home for Cora Coleman is a damp Housing NZ property that the Tenancy Tribunal has ruled is not fit to live in.

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Cora Coleman is still living in a damp Housing New Zealand property that two months ago the Tenancy Tribunal slammed as 'not suitable for occupancy'.

The Tribunal ruled on June 27 that the grounds of the Newcombe St property were constantly wet; "water rises during rain to almost enter the premises.

"The walls become wet to the extent that water runs off them."

Miss Coleman said Housing NZ has been aware of the problems for some time and she went to the Tribunal particularly for her son, who is suffering renal failure.

Adjudicator B Smallbone ruled in her favour and ordered HNZ to find the Colemans a suitable property within 21 days.

If HNZ did not have a suitable house among its own stock, it was ordered to find a private sector property and meet all associated costs.

'HNZ will pay Cora Coleman's moving costs from the property in any circumstances and will remove all items left by her at the property as a result of water and soot damage,' the Tribunal ruled.

Two months later, an increasingly desperate Miss Coleman says she has only been offered one property and that was also unsuitable.

'It was a dive and he [the HNZ manager] told me that he would not live in it but he had to show me something.'

The house's current tenants agree that it's in a bad state (see our sidebar story).

HNZ Wellington tenancy services manager Jackie Pivac says it has tried to find alternative properties and work with Miss Coleman.

"Housing NZ has not and would not ignore the Tenancy Tribunal. We have offered the tenant what we consider to be two very reasonable properties but she has declined both of them. They have now been happily accepted by other tenants but we will keep working to find a property that matches her wants.

'Housing NZ takes its responsibilities as a landlord very seriously and always tries to provide a safe and healthy environment for our tenants. However, tenants must co-operate with us if we are to help them," Ms Pivac said.

'This means arranging and keeping assessment and repair appointments, using the heating sources installed and properly ventilating the house.'

Miss Coleman is adamant she has only been offered the one property and it was in such poor condition she did not consider it seriously.

Her son has advanced renal failure and needs to live in a dry, warm environment.

Her current house has a strong smell of sewage after heavy rain, leaks extensively when it rains, is damp and has been heavily inundated with soot.

HNZ installed a heat pump but she cannot afford to run it.

Ms Coleman took Hutt News for a walk around the area to see other HNZ properties. They also appeared to suffer from dampness, and the tenants complained of a lack of maintenance. Those we talked to said there was a high incidence of asthma, colds and chest complaints.

FREEZING HOUSE UNFIT FOR TENANCY

The Hutt News has visited the alternative accommodation Cora Coleman was offered in Avalon by Housing New Zealand, and it was not hard to see why she said 'no'.

An elderly woman later moved into the property after suffering a house fire and her daughter says she is not happy. The property is extremely damp, has no carpet and the gutters leak.

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The worst thing about it is the cold. The heating only warms the living room and she sleeps in it to try and keep warm at night. In the morning, all the windows are wet and there are puddles everywhere.

Although she has only been living there two weeks, the daughter says her mother has already complained and wants somewhere warmer. HNZ has not responded to her complaints. 'All they have said is that 'someone will have a look' but we are still waiting.'

- If you have a story about a HNZ property, the Hutt News would like to hear from you. Email editor@huttnews.co.nz

- Hutt News

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