Living in a state house 

There is a problem with my Housing NZ house, how can I get it fixed?

You can call Housing New Zealand on 0800 801 601 at any time to get repairs organised.

If it's urgent (e.g. an electrical fault), then they will arrange for it to be fixed within four hours if possible. Otherwise they will send a contractor within 10 working days to assess the situation and decide what needs to be done and when.

If you have done all that you can to keep the house clean and dry, and feel that HNZ is not taking enough action to keep the building in an acceptable condition, you can call them on 0800 801 601, send them a completed feedback form or send them an email.

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We live in a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) house and I think my son’s asthma is badly affected by problems with the house. What can I do?

There are things you can do to make your home as dry and clean as possible. HNZ has some information to help you deal with issues such as: 

If you think dampness in your home could be caused by blocked gutters, for instance, you can call HNZ to ask for repairs to be done (see the previous question).

You can also ask HNZ whether the Healthy Housing programme is available in your area. This is a programme run jointly between District Health Boards and HNZ and operates in areas with a high number of HNZ homes plus high rates of hospital admissions. Households participating in the programme receive visits from a public health nurse who can help with health or housing issues.

From 1 July 2016 all rental property must have smoke alarms, and all social housing (where the tenant pays income-related rent) must have ceiling and under floor insulation meeting the required standard where it can be practically installed. More information about this is on the Tenancy Services website. 

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My partner has died and now Housing NZ say I am no longer eligible to stay in my house, what can I do?

The death of your partner can affect your eligibility to stay in your HNZ home in two ways:

Tenancy
The tenancy agreement specifies who has the right to live in the house. If your name is on the tenancy agreement then as long as you are fulfilling your tenancy obligations you have the right to live there.

However if your partner’s name is on the tenancy agreement but yours is not, then you aren’t a tenant and therefore are not entitled to continue living in the house.

You can apply for social housing in your own name – but you won’t necessarily get the same house you lived in with your partner. You won’t have to vacate your home immediately; HNZ will give you a reasonable amount of time to find a new place to live.

Eligibility
Even if your name was on the tenancy agreement, a change in your circumstances can affect your eligibility to stay in a government subsidised house (i.e. with Income-Related Rent).

You need to advise the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) of any changes in your circumstances e.g. a change in the number of people in your household or in the household income. (If you are aged 65 years or over, call Senior Services on 0800 552 002; otherwise call Work and Income on 0800 559 009).
 
Depending on what’s changed, MSD may decide that you are no longer eligible for Income-Related Rent (read the next question).

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What is a tenancy review? 

All social housing tenancies (i.e. with Income Related Rent subsidies) are reviewed regularly, to ensure that it is reserved for households which are deemed to be in the highest need.

The Ministry of Social Development will regularly review your eligibility for social housing every three years. They will help you to transition to private rental or home ownership if a change in your circumstances means that you can afford it. They’ll take into account factors such as whether there is suitable housing for you to move to.

If you don’t agree with MSD’s decision on your eligibility status you can ask for a review).

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What happens if I am no longer eligible for Income-Related Rent? 

While you are living in government-subsidised social housing, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) can reassess your eligibility for Income-Related Rent if there has been a change in your circumstances. They will do this at your tenancy review.

If MSD decides that you are no longer eligible and are able to move to private rental, they will advise Housing New Zealand, who will give you 90 days’ notice of the end of your tenancy.

More information is on the MSD Social Housing website.

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Housing New Zealand says I owe them money for the rent, but I dispute that. What can I do?

If you have a tenancy-related dispute, you should first try to resolve it by discussing the situation with Housing New Zealand. If the dispute is not satisfactorily resolved this way, you can:

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Housing New Zealand has sent me an eviction letter! What can I do about this?

You can only be evicted from your rented home under certain circumstances (see our Ending a tenancy page). This is generally your landlord’s (Housing New Zealand’s) last resort if you have not fulfilled your obligations as a tenant and it hasn’t been resolved through discussion between landlord and tenant, or mediation.

For example, if you get behind in your rent payments, Housing New Zealand (HNZ) will write to you to remind you of your debt, and invite you to get in touch if you dispute the debt or are having problems paying the money. 

The letter will give you 14 days’ notice to pay the amount owing (or remedy whichever condition of your tenancy you have breached).

If you don’t pay up by the end of this period HNZ can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for a monetary order - which orders you to pay what you owe - and a termination order - which effectively terminates your tenancy. You will need to attend the Tenancy Tribunal hearings to present your side of the story.

If a termination order has granted, you will have to leave the house – otherwise HNZ can apply for a possession order which allows them to evict (forcibly remove) you with the help of a Court Bailiff or police.

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I’ve received my latest account for rent from HNZ and it is 3 times as much as usual, what’s going on?

If you think there is a mistake with your rent account it is a good idea to contact Housing New Zealand (HNZ) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD - call Senior Services on 0800 552 002 if you are aged 65 years or over, otherwise call Work and Income on 0800 559 009) as soon as possible. While HNZ is responsible for collecting your rent, MSD is responsible for calculating and reviewing your rent amount, and for tenancy reviews.

Your rent can increase dramatically if you have been paying income-related rent, (where a low income tenant’s rent is calculated to be no more than 25 percent of their income) but your circumstances have changed since the last rent review (e.g. your household income increased and you can pay more rent). If MSD increases your rent, it will take effect at least 61 days from the date of your change of circumstance and they will give you at least two weeks’ written notice.

If your financial circumstances have improved significantly, you might find after your next tenancy review that you are no longer eligible for Income-Related Rent.

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Housing New Zealand say I damaged my rental and are charging me for it, but it was already damaged when I moved in.

Normally at the start of a Housing New Zealand (HNZ) tenancy you would be given a form which describes the condition of the property. When you sign it, it means that you agree that what the form describes is accurate. If you find that there is a discrepancy, e.g. there is damage to the building which is not included on the form, you should contact HNZ or wait until a HNZ representative arrives for their “welcome” visit, and tell them about it. It’s important not to sign it until you are happy that it is correct. More information about housing inspections is on this HNZ factsheet.
 
If you disagree with your landlord (that is, HNZ) about damage done to the rental property, check your copy of the agreement described above - if it includes note of the damage which HNZ is charging you for, then you can use this as supporting evidence for your case. Contact HNZ about it and let them know about any proof you have that the damage was present when you first moved in.

If this does not resolve the issue you might consider applying for mediation or to the Tenancy Tribunal (see Housing New Zealand says I owe them money for the rent, but I dispute that, what can I do?).

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How do I make a complaint to Housing New Zealand (HNZ) about an obnoxious tenant?

You can make a complaint to Housing New Zealand about one of their tenants, by calling them on 0800 801 601 or sending an email.

Your complaint will be referred to the appropriate team or person, who should get in touch within ten working days.


Who do I talk to if a tree on a Housing NZ-owned property has caused damage to my property?

If you need to contact HNZ about trees, easements, boundary fences etc, you can write to or email:

Property Management Service Team
Housing New Zealand Corporation
National Office Auckland
Private Bag 76913
South Auckland 2241

Email: propertymanagementservice@hnzc.co.nz

More information about ground issues, trees and storm damage is on their website.