Changes to social housing 


From 14 April a number of changes will affect Housing New Zealand (HNZ) tenants and applicants.

The main changes are:

  • The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) will take over responsibility for handling applications and assessments for social housing from Housing New Zealand.
  • Community housing providers will be able to apply for the Income-Related Rent Subsidy (IRRS). This is a government subsidy which allows eligible tenants to pay Income-Related Rent (IRR). IRR is calculated as a percentage of the tenant’s income, and until 14 April was only available to HNZ tenants.
  • Regular tenancy reviews of Housing New Zealand tenants will be introduced.

MSD’s role in social housing 

MSD will take over responsibility for handling applications and assessments for social housing from Housing New Zealand. This means that they will be responsible for:

  • assessing the eligibility and housing needs of people applying for an Income-Related Rent home;
  • calculating and reviewing tenants’ Income-Related Rent; 
  • managing the housing waitlist for HNZ homes and other homes provided with Income-Related Rent;
  • reviewing decisions made on eligibility, needs assessments and Income-Related Rent;
  • tenancy reviews

Income-related rent available to non-HNZ housing providers

Community housing providers will be able to register with MSD for the Income-Related Rent Subsidy to provide to their tenants. Previously only Housing New Zealand properties were available with the Income-Related Rent Subsidy.


If you are an existing HNZ tenant

Your landlord will still be HNZ, but your rent reviews and tenancy reviews will be performed by MSD.

In some cases you’ll need to advise any changes to both MSD and HNZ. If you’re over 65, call Senior Services on 0800 552 002; otherwise call WINZ on 0800 559 009:

Issue

Call HNZ?

Call MSD?

Change in contact details

Yes

Yes

Change in number of people in the household

Yes

Yes

Change of income

No

Yes

Maintenance

Yes

No

Neighbourhood disputes

Yes

No

Income-Related Rent assessment

No

Yes

Problems paying your rent

Yes

Yes, if you need assistance or want to check your level of Income-Related Rent

Tenancy reviews

No

Yes

Your tenancy agreement

Yes

No

There’s change to how you’ll be notified if a change in circumstances leads to an increase in your income-related rent:

  • Before 14 April, tenants were given 60 days’ notice of a rent increase following a rent review. 
  • From 14 April, the date of the rent increase will be at least 61 days from the date of your change of circumstance, and you’ll get at least two weeks’ notice of the date of rent increase. (But if you don’t tell MSD when you have a change of circumstance, you might end up owing them money.)

If a change in your housing needs means that you need to transfer to a different house, you may not necessarily get a HNZ house; you might be offered a property from a registered community housing provider. 

Regular tenancy reviews begin from 1 July, starting with HNZ tenants who are paying market rent or near-market rent. If the review finds that you are no longer eligible for income-related rent and that you can move to private rental (or buy a home), MSD will provide some support to do so. Once you’ve had a tenancy review, you won’t get another for three years (unless if there is a change in your circumstances)


If you are currently on the HNZ waitlist

  • Your eligibility and assessment information will transfer from HNZ to MSD.
  • If your circumstances change you would need to contact either Work and Income or Senior Services (not HNZ). 
  • If a suitable property becomes available you’ll be contacted by either HNZ or a community housing provider (when previously only HNZ would contact you).


If you intend to apply for a state house or other income-related rent housing on or after 14 April

  • You would apply to the MSD (in most cases, to WINZ) for social housing with Income-Related Rent.
  • The initial eligibility screening will be done by MSD (usually WINZ). The screening is normally over the phone.
  • If you are eligible, your housing needs will be assessed by WINZ. The assessment determines what position you’ll occupy on the housing waitlist.
  • A social housing provider will contact you if they have a suitable rental property for you, but it won’t necessarily be HNZ.


Other types of social housing

If you are eligible for Income-Related Rent, remember that there are other providers of social housing. For example, many local authorities have rental housing for low-income residents.