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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

Yes, Kāinga Ora (Housing New Zealand) and community housing providers have to follow the Residential Tenancies Act 1986, just like landlords in the private rental market. See the previous sections of this chapter for your minimum rights under that Act.

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 (Housing NZ).

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” in the chapter “Dealing with Work and Income”).

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 (Kāinga Ora or the community housing provider).

Who’s responsible for maintenance and repairs?

As your landlord, Kāinga Ora (Housing NZ) 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” in the chapter “Dealing with Work and Income”).

What if I have a dispute with my tenancy manager?

If you have a dispute with your tenancy manager from Kāinga Ora (Housing NZ) 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” in this chapter).

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

Yes. If you’re in a Kāinga Ora (Housing NZ) property, you’ll need to complete a Privacy Waiver form, which you can get from Kāinga Ora (go to 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 free initial legal advice and can help you make an application to the Tenancy Tribunal.

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.

Tenancy advice line

Phone: 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANCY). Free translation services are available.

Bond enquiries

Phone: 0800 737 666. Free translation services are available.

Information and forms

Tenancy Services provides information and various forms online or you can order forms by phoning 0800 83 62 62 (0800 TENANC)

Applying to the Tenancy Tribunal

You can apply online, or you can get a paper copy of the form from a Tenancy Services office. The application processes are explained at:

Tenants Protection Associations


Some cities have Tenants Protection Associations:

Christchurch – (03) 379 2297,

Auckland – (09) 360 1473

Renters United

www.rentersunited.org.nz (in Wellington only)

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

Manawatu Tenants Union

Manawatu Tenants Union provides advocacy and support for renters in the Manawatu region

Phone: 06 357 7435

Email: info@mtu.org.nz

Citizens Advice Bureau


Phone (0800 FOR CAB) 0800 367 222

Contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for information about what local tenancy services are available to you.

Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing New Zealand)


Kāinga Ora, which manages the state housing stock in New Zealand, has a range of information on its website.

Phone: 0800 801 601

Ministry of Social Development


The Ministry of Social Development assesses eligibility for the social housing provided by Housing New Zealand and registered community housing providers. MSD also calculates income-related rent for social housing and conducts tenancy reviews.

MSD‘s social housing staff can be contacted through Work and Income offices:

Phone Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or, if you’re 65 or older, contact Senior Services on 0800 552 002.

Community Housing Regulatory Authority


Phone: (04) 896 5908

Email: CHRA@hud.govt.nz

The Authority approves and registers community housing providers and monitors registered providers. You can read the register of approved providers on the Authority’s website.

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