High Court hearing date set for legal challenge to Tauranga state house sale

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Vanessa Kururangi, State Housing Action Incorporated secretary, will be at the Wellington High Court in November as the group fights the Government's sale of Tauranga's state housing. Photo/File
Vanessa Kururangi, State Housing Action Incorporated secretary, will be at the Wellington High Court in November as the group fights the Government's sale of Tauranga's state housing. Photo/File

A date has been set aside at the Wellington High Court for a hearing on a legal challenge to prevent the sale of Tauranga's state housing.

November 9 has been set aside for the hearing after State Housing Action Incorporated filed papers seeking a judicial review of the sale.

At the National Maori Housing Conference in Tauranga this weekend, Minister for Social Housing Paula Bennett confirmed the transfer of more than 1000 Housing New Zealand properties in Tauranga to a community housing provider would continue and be finalised in the coming months.

State Housing Action Incorporated secretary Vanessa Kururangi said the group's lawyer had made an agreement with the Government that when it officially announced the sale of Tauranga's state houses to Accessible Properties, the group would be given access to commercially sensitive data to help prepare for court.

"We're quite prepared for the court case, we're just waiting now for that information so we can tweak what we want to do, and make sure it is the right thing to be doing. We don't want to go ahead fighting something just because we've dug our heels in.

"We do want the result of not having our homes sold to private investors."

Ms Kururangi said the group was going to do more fundraising as the court case would not be cheap.

She did not expect a large contingent of people to be at court on the date due to the cost of travel, but said State Housing Action groups based near the Wellington area might come along.

"It will be good to get some serious answers and have our concerns addressed officially. I'm excited, and nervous as well. I'm feeling like we have all the information we need, anything else will be a bonus."

A spokesperson for the Government's Social Housing Reform Programme said the Government was continuing to work with the preferred provider, Accessible Properties NZ Ltd, to complete negotiations while the court process was under way.

"However, we will not be transferring the tenancies and properties to Accessible Properties New Zealand before the hearing," the spokesperson said.

"Whatever the court decides we will work to ensure the best possible outcome for Tauranga tenants."

Accessible Properties New Zealand was expected to become the new landlord around April next year, the spokesperson said.

Under a new landlord, state housing tenants would continue to be housed for as long as they were eligible for social housing. Their rent would not change as a result of having a new landlord, nor would their rights.

All the properties transferred would have to remain in use as social housing and could not be sold unless the Government agreed otherwise, the spokesperson said.

The Government would only give that approval if the house was no longer needed for social housing, or it was to be redeveloped to better match the Tauranga's current and future social housing needs.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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