25 Jan 2016

Tougher rules for state tenants take effect

8:36 am on 25 January 2016

New rules aimed at discouraging state housing tenants from turning down homes they are offered come into effect today.

State housing in Upper Hutt.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Under the new rules people will be removed from the social housing register for 13 weeks if - without good reason - they turn down a house twice, instead of four times as per the previous rule.

People will be asked to pick at least three suburbs they would be willing to live in, whereas at the moment they only have to give one.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said it was unreasonable for overly demanding tenants to hold up others wanting to be placed in state houses.

Too many people were declining properties without good reason, she said.

Ms Bennett said four percent of the 10,000 offers made to tenants last year were declined for unacceptable reasons.

The government has previously said each case would be assessed on merit, and people would be able to decline a house for good reasons such as health and safety, or concerns about security.