James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Pensioners fear new landlord as council looks at selling units

Councillor Ewan Wilson said it was an easy decision to sell the three rundown properties and put the money into council coffers. Photo / Supplied
Councillor Ewan Wilson said it was an easy decision to sell the three rundown properties and put the money into council coffers. Photo / Supplied

Hamilton pensioners are concerned a sale of their council-owned homes could result in a change of services and leave them with a less compassionate landlord.

The city council last week voted unanimously to increase rents at council-owned flats for the elderly by up to 30 per cent to bring them in line with the local government benchmark, and to adjust rents annually thereafter.

It will also sell three of the most rundown properties and investigate whether Housing New Zealand wants to buy the rest of its portfolio of 395 units.

About 60 pensioners turned up to Friday's council meeting to plead with the city's largest provider of pensioner housing to sell to a sympathetic buyer if the sales must go through.

Doris Hansen, who has lived at the council-owned Gibson Rd flats in Dinsdale for 14 years, worries that a new owner would not provide as good a service.

"I wouldn't like to see private people taking it over because we wouldn't have the same securities and service," she said.

The 91-year-old said an increase in rent for her $82-a-week "dinky" one-bedroom flat to $111 would mean she would have to cut back on what she spent at the supermarket each week.

From November 1 next year the cost of renting a bedsit will increase from $58 to $78. Rent for a two-bedroom unit will rise from $121 to $163.

Dorothy Miller, aged 85, who lives at a Clarkin Rd unit in Chartwell, said she wanted as compassionate and empathetic a landlord as she currently had.

She was worried a private landlord would turn a blind eye to the elderly and properties would be neglected.

The council also agreed to sell off its three most decrepit properties and re-house 51 pensioners into warmer and safer properties over a year.

Councillor Ewan Wilson said it was an easy decision to sell the three rundown properties and put the money into council coffers.

The council will now have talks with Housing New Zealand about selling its entire housing for the elderly portfolio as it questions whether it should be in the business of being a landlord of pensioners.

FOR SALE

River Rd, 12 units, built in 1980 CV $1.1m
Johnson St, 12 units, 1962 CV $1.22m
Ascot Reid Ryan, 27 units, 1974 CV $720,000

- NZ Herald

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