Housing NZ to get more smaller units

HAMISH RUTHERFORD
Last updated 05:00 04/03/2013

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Housing New Zealand is planning to ditch three-bedroom homes on quarter-acre sections in favour of one-bedroom units.

Details of the department's plan to reconfigure its portfolio are revealed in a briefing for new Housing Minister Nick Smith.

The owner of more than $15 billion worth of state housing, the government department openly admits that barely half its portfolio properly meets the needs of its tenants.

While 43 per cent of its 69,000 homes are three bedroom houses, only 16 per cent of its "priority demand" requires a property of that size. And only 10 per cent of its portfolio is one-bedroom units, meeting 33 per cent of its highest demand.

Housing New Zealand's briefing to the incoming minister, released last week, outlined a series of goals to improve its portfolio to meet the needs of tenants under its 10-year asset management plan.

It includes increasing the rate of selling or refurbishing state homes, as well as increasing the match between its property and demand to 90 per cent.

Housing New Zealand's manager of asset development, Sean Bignell, said there was a major shortage of one-bedroom units, as well as not enough four and five-bedroom homes.

Only about 50 per cent of its properties were considered a "perfect fit", with the right number of tenants living in each property.

However, up to 60 per cent of its portfolio is dubbed as having "significant land yield potential", meaning it could either be used for building additional housing on the same land, or be sold.

"The broad goal is, how do we unlock that value."

Mr Bignell said the recent sale of two state homes in Sandringham in Auckland, for a combined value of $1.91 million, freed up funds for building and improving other state homes for families in need.

The target of increasing the portfolio to a point where 90 per cent of it matched the needs of its tenants was "an aspirational goal" Mr Bignell said, with Housing New Zealand only expecting to increase the match to 70 per cent over the next 10 years.

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