6 Nov 2010

Fraud probe retaliatory, says Housing NZ tenant

2:48 pm on 6 November 2010

A state house tenant in Auckland charged with fraud is accusing Housing New Zealand of launching an investigation to punish him for complaining about the poor condition of the property.

Andrew Hooper and his wife Debbie Hooper have been charged with operating a business from their Bucklands Beach home and making false income declarations.

Their income-related rent has been revoked and they've been billed $81,000 in rent arrears and evicted, along with their three children.

Mr Hooper denies he's made any money from running a community wireless network, for which he had permission from Housing New Zealand.

He says the investigation began only after he and his wife complained to the Tenancy Tribunal about Housing New Zealand's refusal to fix flooding, mould and other problems with the house.

Mr Hooper says contrary to standard procedure, he and his wife were denied the chance to see the investigator's report before criminal charges were laid.

A spokesperson for Housing New Zealand says he can't comment on the case because it's currently before the court.

But he says for a case to go to court, there must be adequate evidence that a tenant has intentionally misused documents to obtain a benefit.

Housing New Zealand has 140 fraud cases before the courts, a 10-fold increase on two years ago.