Each year the death of around 700 social housing tenants ends the lease on their state house - at times forcing surviving family members to move out.

Several of these cases came to light in the media, including one in the Herald where a cancer patient and his family were told they had to move from their state home of 25 years a week after their mother had died.

Subsequently Housing New Zealand and the Ministry of Social Development took a look at how it managed tenancies, with surviving family members, after the death of the tenant holding the lease.

In a business alert sent to HNZ staff, released under the Official Information Act, it was revealed that after a number of cases were in the media HNZ identified 21 days was not enough time for the family's housing needs to be assessed.


Together with MSD it had since developed a plan that would see it manage these tenancies in a manner that would offer more "robust support" for the family and consistent messages from both organisations.

This included meeting with the family to offer condolences at their loss and discussing where to next.

HNZ said during the meeting it would mutually agree on a date with the family for the tenancy to end, arrange a social housing assessment, and if eligible for social housing the area manager would look at whether they could stay in their current home, or find them a more suitable housing option.

Figures released under the Official Information Act showed in the 2016 to 2017 financial year there were 740 times where the reason for a HNZ tenancy being ended was due to the death of a sole tenant.

However, the social housing agency said it could not distinguish between whether the family had notified it to end the tenancy, or if it had notified the next of kin that it would be ending the tenancy.

Tenancies ended as a result of a death