Evictions follow Housing NZ rort probes

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 12:00 20/08/2013

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Ten tenants were removed from homes in the Manawatu/Whanganui region in the year to June following fraud investigations by Housing NZ.

They were among 292 people nationally who were evicted last year from Housing NZ's 62,000 tenants.

In one Palmerston North case a tenant claimed to be a single parent when applying for an income-related rent subsidy for a three-bedroom home. They failed to declare seasonal work in some of their income-related rent applications. It was found the Crown was owed $28,000 and criminal fraud charges were laid.

In a Whanganui case a tenant failed to declare their partner was living with them. Their tenancy was terminated and criminal fraud charges were laid resulting in a sentence of home detention.

"State houses are heavily subsidised by other taxpayers and tenants abuse this support when they are dishonest about their living situation or income, or use the home for criminal activity like drug manufacturing," Housing Minister Nick Smith said.

"We need to take a firm approach to such abuse to be fair to the vast bulk of honest tenants, to ensure public money is supporting improved social outcomes, and to ensure our state houses are available to those most in need of housing support.

"Housing New Zealand expanded its fraud unit and started taking a firm approach on the change of government in 2008. This has seen the number of tenancies terminated for fraud or criminal offending grow from 42 in 2008/09 to 292 in the year to June 2012/13."

The work by Housing New Zealand investigators resulted in 129 criminal convictions and identification of $11 million of rent subsidies tenants were not entitled to.

"While the vast majority [of HNZ tenants] are in legitimate need of housing, a small minority are rorting the system.

"I make no apologies for the hard line taken to make sure state housing is freed up for those who actually need it."

Of the 10 Manawatu/Whanganui cases six tenants voluntary vacated during the investigations and four were given 90-day notices to vacate.

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- Manawatu Standard

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