Tenants of an Auckland state home, unhappy with building work in their backyard, "threatened to shoot" the social housing agency's contractors.

Tensions rose after builders removed the tenants' chicken coop, a trampoline and a clothesline to make way for a Housing New Zealand home on the back section.

The confrontation, detailed in a tenancy tribunal finding published online in December, came about after builders offered to replace the clothesline and the tenant responded by threatening to shoot.

Work was immediately suspended for a fortnight, until the tenant calmed down.

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The threat to shoot was one of approximately 335 safety and security issues HNZ staff faced since it began recording them in July 2015 to February 2017.

Between five to 20 incidents a month were reported.

The figures were released as part of a report obtained by the Herald under the Official Information Act.

The report, titled Housing New Zealand's Tenants, indicated an increase in the number of people being reported as posing a risk, because of issues with drugs, alcohol, gang links, unlawful activity or other "anti-social" behaviour.

Behaviour included harassment, intimidation, assault, noise nuisance, vehicle nuisance, vandalism, rubbish dumping and illegal activity.

HNZ was unable to quantify in time for publication what proportion of tenants had issues and those who were otherwise model citizens.

"Housing New Zealand tenants will typically be in receipt of a range of public services and support," a spokesman said.

The report, which was written for the Minister of Social Housing in March and released to the Herald in late 2017, said staff had reported an increase in the number of threats to their safety and the number of office lockdowns had increased over the past three years.

In the eight months to the end of February 2017, 44 staff reported face-to-face aggression, four reported being bitten by a dog, one reported sexually harassment, another was confronted by a firearm and two HNZ offices were burgled.

Overall, risk-rated households rose 375 per cent, from 599 to 2849, between 2012 to 2016.

The rating was applied to tenants who were deemed to pose some element of risk, including threats, antisocial behaviour, unlawful activity or who were believed to have gang links.

HNZ said it had noticed these issues, which meant more staff had to visit certain tenants in pairs, had grown alongside the growth of priority A housing applicants, who increased from 618 to 3956 by December 2016.

The latest information on the Ministry of Social Development website showed that as at September 30 2017, 4056 people were on the priority A list.

Priority applicants were deemed to have severe and persistent housing needs that needed to be addressed immediately.

"The risk to tenancy managers has increased over previous years for staff. Supporting this view from staff is the number of staff reporting threats made against them," the report read.

"Many of our experienced tenancy managers are in agreement that the level of complexity that our tenants have, and the time and effort going into managing these tenancies has increased markedly in recent years."

Tenants, or their family and friends at the property, who breached agreements with HNZ would first be spoken to by the tenancy manager to try resolve the issue.

"In most cases this worked," HNZ said. However, if it didn't the tenants would be sent a breach letter, and the next step was a household action plan with monthly meetings.

The report showed in 2016 HNZ had to take action against tenants 13,500 times, up 2000 from 11,500 in 2015. It did not elaborate what these actions were.

It also showed a rise in the number of tenants being served a 90-day end-of-tenancy notice: 1090 in 2016, compared to 673 in 2015 and 563 in 2014.

To help it cope with its increasingly complex clients HNZ said it had committed to a number of projects to help it gain a better understanding of issues and its tenants, inclduing having a staff member seconded to the Gang Intelligence Agency at Police National headquarters and a trial aimed at helping tenants with complex issues stay in their homes.

Incidents from July 2016 - February 2017

Face-to-face aggression - 44

Threat of physical harm - 26

Aggression over the phone - 14

Aggressive or anti-social behaviour - 11

Aggressive dogs - 10

Dog bite - 4

Burglary (HNZ office) - 2

Vandalism at HNZ property - 4

Trespassers - void property - 2

Aggression via text - 2

Threat to damage property - 1

Sexual harassment - 1

Firearm - 1