What is Housing New Zealand Corporation doing to identify and address fraudulent behaviour by some tenants?
The overwhelming majority of Housing New Zealand Corporation tenants appreciate their home and abide by the rules. However, there is a small minority who access homes and subsidies under false pretences. Over the last 2 years, the Housing New Zealand Corporation has built a highly effective team of expert investigators. The team has identified $6.3 million worth of subsidised rent that tenants were not entitled to. In fact, 166 Housing New Zealand Corporation tenancies were ended following investigations of more than 130 cases of tenant-related fraud that have been before the courts. That is a tenfold increase in investigations and cases before the courts compared with 2 years ago.
What kinds of activities have some Housing New Zealand Corporation tenants been undertaking that have led to action being taken against them?
There are two examples that the previous Government would have allowed. One example is that an Auckland man failed to declare that he was running a large motor vehicle repair business. He also owned three rental properties and was living with a partner. He has been sentenced to 5 months’ home detention and 100 hours of community work, and a debt of $68,000 is now against his name. Here is something else that the previous Government would have tolerated: an Auckland woman, who had lived in her State house for 6 years, deliberately disguised her employment by using numerous false identities. During her tenancy she also purchased six taxis and two investment properties, and got married, none of which was declared. She has been prosecuted for fraud and she paid $50,000 at the time of sentencing to avoid prison.
Why has the Housing New Zealand Corporation increased its investigation resources and activities over the last 2 years?
There is no secret that the demand for Housing New Zealand Corporation property outstrips supply. Currently, we have over 4,000 people on the waiting list who have been classified as high priority to be housed. In our view, we would rather provide State houses to people who have genuine need than turn a blind eye to fraud, as happened under the previous Government.