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Social housing: Tenants in state and community housing

Your rights and obligations as a social housing tenant

Do I have the same rights as tenants who have private landlords?

Residential Tenancies Act 1986, s 4

Kāinga Ora and community housing providers have to follow the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, just like landlords in the private rental market.

If you rent from your local council, they’re also bound by the Act, just like other landlords.

What are my obligations if my situation changes?

Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992, s 115(1)

You have to tell the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) if your situation changes in a way that could affect whether you still qualify for social housing or how much rent you should be paying – for example, if your income or the number of people in your household changes.

If the number of people in your household changes (for example, if you have a new partner move in or you have a new baby), you’ll also need to contact your housing provider, such as Kāinga Ora.

What happens if I don’t tell MSD about a change in my situation?

If a change in your situation affects whether you qualify for social housing and you don’t tell the Ministry of Social Development, you could be receiving social housing when you’re not entitled to it, or you could be paying less rent than you’re supposed to be. This could result in you owing a debt to MSD or in them investigating you for fraud.

MSD will investigate suspected fraud in relation to social housing in the same way as they investigate suspected benefit fraud (see: “Trouble with Work and Income: Penalties, investigations and overpayments”).

How do I ask to be transferred to a different social housing property?

If you’re not happy with your current social housing property and want to transfer, contact your housing provider.

Who’s responsible for maintenance and repairs?

As your landlord, Kāinga Ora or the community housing provider is responsible for maintenance and repairs.

How much rent will I pay?

Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992, ss 104–116

Public and Community Housing Management (Prescribed Elements of Calculation Mechanism) Regulations 2018

This will depend on how much your household earns. If your income is below a certain level you may qualify for a lower level of rent, called “income-related rent”- where the government pays the difference between what you can pay (based on 25% of your net income) and the normal market rent rate.

How often will my rent be reviewed?

Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992, s 116

The amount of rent you pay will be reviewed once a year by the Ministry of Social Development.

What happens if MSD decide I no longer qualify for social housing?

Public and Community Housing Management Act 1992, s 117(1)(b)

If MSD decide you no longer qualify for social housing, and you’re on an indefinite (periodic) tenancy, they can give you 90 days’ notice that you’ll need to leave and find other accommodation. If you’re on a fixed-term tenancy, your tenancy will end at the end of the period stated in your tenancy agreement.

You can challenge MSD’s decision by asking for a review by a Benefit Review Committee. If you’re not happy with the Committee’s decision you can then appeal to the Social Security Appeal Authority (see: “Challenging Work and Income decisions: Reviews and appeals”).

What if I have a dispute with my tenancy manager?

If you have a dispute with your tenancy manager from Kāinga Ora or your community housing provider – for example, if you’re not happy with their response to a problem you’ve raised – you can ask to speak to their team manager. You may need to get the contact details from your tenancy manager. Remember to keep copies of all letters and to make written notes of all conversations you have both with the tenancy manager and their manager.

If you’re not happy with the team manager’s response, you can take the dispute to the Tenancy Tribunal, the same as if you have a dispute with a private landlord (see: “Resolving tenancy disputes”).

Can I have someone represent me in my dealings with the landlord?

Yes. If you’re in a Kāinga Ora property, you’ll need to complete a “privacy waiver” form and an “appointment of agent” form, which you can get from www.kaingaora.govt.nz. If you’re renting from a community housing provider, ask them whether they have a particular authorisation form for you to fill in.

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Tenancy and housing

Where to go for more support

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Tenancy Services – Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

MBIE’s Tenancy Services section provides information to tenants and to landlords. It also provides dispute-resolution services.

Website: www.tenancy.govt.nz
Tenancy advice: 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANCY). Free translation services are available.
Bond enquiries: 0800 737 666. Free translation services are available.

Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)

Work and Income assess eligibility for social housing provided by Kāinga Ora and other registered community housing providers. WINZ also calculates income-related rent for social housing and conducts tenancy reviews.

Website: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/index.html
Phone: 0800 559 009
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/nowhere-to-stay/index.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/who-can-get-public-housing.html
Email: www.workandincome.govt.nz/housing/find-a-house/apply-for-public-housing.html

Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand)

Kāinga Ora manages New Zealand’s public housing and places people in public homes.  Kāinga Ora’s website provides information for existing and prospective tenants.

Website: www.kaingaora.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 801 601
Office locations: kaingaora.govt.nz/our-locations
When to contact Kāinga Ora vs Work and Income resource: kaingaora.govt.nz/tenants-and-communities/renting-a-home

Note: to apply for a Kāinga Ora home, you need to contact Work and Income – “Ministry of Social Development – Work and Income (WINZ)” above.

Tenancy Tribunal

The Tenancy Tribunal can help you if you have an issue with a tenant or landlord that you can’t solve yourself. The Tribunal will hear both sides of the argument and can issue an order that is legally binding.

Information on how to apply to the Tenancy Tribunal: www.tenancy.govt.nz/disputes/Tribunal/making-an-application

Aratohu Tenant Advocacy

The Aratohu Tenant Advocacy is a comprehensive online resource that provides support and guidance to tenants and their advocates.

Website: tenant.aratohu.nz

Tenants Protection Association Auckland (TPA)

The Tenants Protection Association provides advocacy and support to renters in Auckland.

Website: tpaauckland.org.nz
Phone: 09 360 1473

Manawatū Tenants’ Union

The Manawatū Tenants’ Union provides advocacy and support to renters in the Manawatū region.

Website: www.mtu.org.nz
Email: info@mtu.org.nz
Phone: 06 357 7435

Renters United

Renters United is an organisation for renters in Wellington. They focus on organising renters and campaigning to make renting better for everyone.

Website: rentersunited.org.nz
Online contact form: rentersunited.org.nz/contact
Instagram: www.instagram.com/fairrentnow
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rentersunitednz

Community Housing Regulatory Authority

The Community Housing Regulatory Authority registers and regulates community housing providers.

Website: chra.hud.govt.nz
Email: CHRA@hud.govt.nz
Phone: 0800 141 411

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

CAB provides free, confidential and independent information and advice.  See CAB’s website for valuable information on a range of topics.

Website: www.cab.org.nz
Phone: 0800 367 222
Facebook: www.facebook.com/citizensadvicenz

Find your local CAB office: www.cab.org.nz/find-a-cab

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