INDEPENDENT NEWS

397 state tenancies ended for dishonesty

Published: Wed 3 Aug 2011 11:15 AM
397 state tenancies ended for dishonesty
Housing Minister Phil Heatley says 397 state houses were freed up for those in genuine need in the last three years after investigations found the former tenants had obtained a state house or taxpayer subsidised rent by lying about their circumstances.
Of that number, 241 tenancies were ended in the last 12 months.
Housing New Zealand (HNZ) has also established $6.6 million in Crown debts for overpaid rent subsidies over the last 12 months - bringing the total over the last three years to nearly $13.7 million.
"The state housing system is designed to help people in their time of need. It's unfair and unacceptable for people to abuse the system and commit fraud to get benefits they are not entitled to. People who deliberately rip-off the system deprive families in real need," says Mr Heatley.
"By freeing up 241 homes in the last 12 months, and 397 over the last three years, the Corporation is able to help a significant number of people on the waiting list who have a desperate and genuine need for a state house."
Investigations into the tenancies revealed situations where tenants failed to advise HNZ about income from employment, business interests, assets, that they lived with a partner, or they sublet their tenancy.
Since July last year HNZ has also successfully prosecuted 119 tenants for fraud. Sentences for the 119 people convicted included:
* 3 prison sentences
* 22 home detention/community detention
* 67 community work
* 5 reparation only
* 1 convicted and discharged
* 21 awaiting sentence
"I expect Housing New Zealand to continue with its strong stance on the detection and prevention of fraud," says Mr Heatley.
"This Government is very supportive of HNZ 's desire to focus its efforts on housing those most in need for the duration of that need. Measures put in place to detect and prevent fraud also help to ensure only those in genuine need get access to a state home," Mr Heatley says.
Examples where tenants have been required to leave their state house.
Holiday home
A tenant who obtained a state house in 2000, was found to have owned two properties, including a holiday home in Waihi. The tenant was convicted and sentenced to six months community detention 12 months supervision, 80 hours community work and ordered to pay reparation of $55,146.
Subletting multiple tenancies
Between 2000 and 2008 two tenants lived together as partners in one tenancy whilst subletting the other. They also earned income from employment. They received over $160,000 in rental subsidies they were not entitled to. Both three bedroom tenancies were terminated and the tenants were found guilty of fraud.
Document forgery
A former tenant, who obtained a state house in 1998, did not declare his wife's employment. The tenant forged employer income statements and understated his income. The tenant was sentenced to five months home detention and ordered to pay $55,000 reparation.
Overseas trips for tenant and partner
A tenant who obtained a house in 2002, had failed to declare his partner who was employed as a civil engineer. The couple travelled frequently to Australia along with his children. The tenancy was terminated, he was convicted of fraud and a Crown debt of $90,000 was established.

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