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No evictions of unruly tenants by Kāinga Ora after receiving more than 6000 complaints

A state house in Northcote

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Kāinga Ora director customer and practice, Shannon Gatfield, says no-one should have to put up with disruptive neighbours.
Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Kāinga Ora has yet to cancel any tenancies or evict a single tenant since it was instructed to more vigourously employ the law against unruly renters.

The housing agency has, however, moved 113 households, although it admits about half of those are tenants who have chosen to move away from their disruptive neighbours.

In February, the government gave Kāinga Ora the green light to deal with disruptive tenants, using measures including a ‘three strikes’ complaints scheme laid out in the Residential Tenancies Act.

Since then, the agency has received close to 6500 complaints about unruly tenants – ranging from relatively minor noise issues through to threats of violence.

In response, 21 households have been issued first-strike warnings, with seven progressing to a second-strike and just one to a final warning.

Kāinga Ora customer and practice director Shannon Gatfield said no one should have to put up with disruptive neighbours and the three-strikes system was having a positive effect.

“While we have issued only one third notice what we’ve found is issuing the first notice has quite an important effect and two-thirds of people who receive that first notice have not gone on to receive a second.”

Four disruptive households have been moved to another Kāinga Ora property using another section of the Residential Tenancies Act.

“Often after working with us for a period of time or perhaps after a really severe event they ultimately acknowledge they cannot repair the relationship with their neighbours and their communities and they will decide they want to go, they will willingly move.”

The remainder of those households that have moved have done so after discussions with their housing managers without recourse to the Act – including more than 50 trying to get away from unruly neighbours.

Gatfield said overall the number of complaints and households required to move was trending downwards.

Neighbours of disruptive Kāinga Ora tenants who spoke to RNZ however, remained sceptical.

A Nelson Kāinga Ora tenant said both she and her teenagers had been threatened by their neighbours who are also Kāinga Ora tenants.

“My housing manager I feel like he’s tried to make me feel guilty for it and I mean these neighbours have lashed out through no fault of mine.”

In the most recent incident, the daughter of her neighbour had jumped the fence and pulled a knife on the woman.

“I’ve had to give up work because my kids are terrified.”

She had not noticed any difference in Kāinga Ora’s approach this year.

“I don’t feel that Kāinga Ora take it seriously. My housing manager’s opinion is ‘aw it’s like they’re accused of it they haven’t been charged yet’ and well what about us? We’ve been offered no support, nothing from them.”

The woman was open to Kāinga Ora offering her a place elsewhere.

A private property owner in Whangārei has long endured loud parties at his Kāinga Ora neighbour that often descend into violence.

He’d not noticed any positive change in behaviour when he had complained this year.

“Only over the next day or so when they all stand out there yelling at me for being a nark and for calling their landlords on them, and then they get a bit more threatening and a bit more annoying. It just seems to aggravate the problem more than anything.

“It doesn’t achieve anything we are trying to achieve like either the problem gets moved on or they change their habits.”

Kāinga Ora’s Shannon Gatfield said it was the landlord of last resort for about 200,000 New Zealanders – half of them children.

She said removing tenants from a property was lengthy process and used only when there was no other option.

By the numbers (Source: Kāinga Ora)

  • 200,000 New Zealanders are tenants of Kāinga Ora
  • 6449 complaints received about Kāinga Ora neighbours (1 February 2022 – 31 October 2022), including duplicate entries and complaints that were later withdrawn or found to have no merit.
  • 84 percent of complaints over the past 12 months were minor like car noise, frequency of visitors or lawns not being mowed.
  • 113 Kāinga Ora households relocated by agreement since February about half of which were its tenants getting away from other unruly Kāinga Ora neighbours
  • 90 percent of relocated tenants had no further complaints. Of the remaining 10 percent, the number of complaints dropped significantly – on average, by 70 percent.
  • 21 households issued a first-strike notice under Section 55A of the Residential Tenancies Act since February, with seven households going on to receive a second notice.
  • 1 third-strike notice issued under Section 55A of the RTA since February
  • 0 applications made to the Tenancy Tribunal to end a tenancy under Section 55A of the RTA.
  • 0 the number of evictions by Kāinga Ora so far this year.

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