State housing tenants billed for damage

Housing New Zealand says a tougher approach to state housing tenants who neglect their homes is starting to pay off.

Chief executive Lesley McTurk says visits to high-risk homes are being intensified and those responsible for damage are being made to pay for the cost of repairs over time.

"In the first six months of this financial year, there has been an 11 per cent rise in the costs of damage recovered from tenants," Dr McTurk said.

By December last year, almost 80 per cent of tenants who had damaged state homes were repaying money.

Dr McTurk said where patterns of damage were identified, Housing New Zealand worked with tenants to help them change behaviour or resolve issues that could lead to damage.

If attempts were not successful, the corporation applied for mediation and ultimately asked the Tenancy Tribunal for tenancy termination.

The number of applications to mediation or the Tenancy Tribunal by the corporation increased by almost 10 per cent in the year to January, Dr McTurk said.

She added that Housing New Zealand aimed to inspect each of its properties twice a year, but in some cases more frequent visits were needed.

At present, nearly 10 per cent of the corporation's 68,000 tenancies had damage debt.

- NZPA

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