22 Aug 2012

Minister praises HNZ over catching cheats

5:38 pm on 22 August 2012

Housing Minister Phil Heatley is praising Housing New Zealand for its work in dealing with state housing tenants who are deliberately ripping off the system.

In the year to June, the organisation evicted 312 tenants for lying about their circumstances, including running scams and prostitution rings from their state houses.

That's an increase of 30% from 241 evictions last year, and 114 in 2010.

In one case, a couple was running an internet business from their property which was turning over about $400,000 a year.

Phil Heatley says Housing New Zealand's fraud investigation team is doing a good job in clamping down on the small minority who are abusing the system.

"When I was in opposition I pointed out the fact that there seemed to be an awful lot of allegations of fraud: sub-letting, vandalism, criminal gang behaviour.

"The reality is since we have been in government, Housing New Zealand has clamped down on it. They have had political backing and they are getting these people and catching them."

Mr Heatley says over the past year, Housing New Zealand has also uncovered more than $9.5 million in overpaid rent subsidies.

Labour's housing spokesperson Annette King says the clampdown is freeing up houses for people who desperately need accommodation.

"Nobody likes fraud and I would support investigation that does stop fraud, because people who shouldn't have houses and have got them means that a needy person isn't getting one."