29 Apr 2015

Pensioners upset by council's rent hike

11:49 am on 29 April 2015

A pensioner living in a Whangarei council flat says elderly people are being blindsided by a 30 percent rent rise.

A panorama image of Whangarei

The Whangarei District Council rents out 164 pensioner units. Photo: Gadfium / Wikimedia Commons

That works out to about $30 a week extra for most of the 164 units the council rents to people over 65.

110314. Photo supplied Whangarei's new mayor Sheryl Mai

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai Photo: supplied

A tenant in the suburb of Tikipunga, 82-year-old Ted Winsborough, said he would have to forgo luxuries like new clothes to afford the increase.

He told Nine to Noon the rent hike came out of nowhere. "No consultation at all. I think their PR was pretty lax on this one," he said.

"We just received the letter in the mail saying they'd had consultation with other councils and they've decided, or come to agreement, to raise the rent by 30 percent."

Mr Winsborough said he knew his rent had to go up but 30 percent was too much.

Whangarei Mayor Sheryl Mai said those facing the rent increase should be able to get financial assistance to help foot the extra cost.

Ms Mai said income supplements were available to the tenants - but she did not know how far they would go to cover the extra costs.

"We were assured that people who meet the criteria [for the pensioner units] would also be eligible for the accommodation supplement," she said.

"I'm confident that is the case but of course each individual person has an individual criteria so I can't be absolutely certain that every single one of the people will get the same amount of supplement."

She said tenants were being put in touch with people to help them access financial assistance.

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