30 Apr 2015

Government to transfer 2800 state houses

5:30 pm on 30 April 2015

The Government has confirmed it will transfer the ownership and management of thousands of Housing New Zealand homes in Auckland.

Finance Minister Bill English talks about rising house prices in Auckland.

Finance Minister Bill English speaks to reporters at Parliament (file photo). Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Finance Minister Bill English said 2800 properties in Tāmaki would be transferred to the Tāmaki Redevelopment Company - a joint venture between the Government and the Auckland Council.

Phil Twyford.

Phil Twyford Photo: RNZ

It will be the first significant transfer of state houses under the Government's plan to step back from social housing.

The decision means all Housing New Zealand tenants living in Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure will have a new landlord by March next year.

Labour Party housing spokesman Phil Twyford - speaking to Morning Report before Mr English's formal announcement - described the plan as "utterly reckless".

Mr Twyford said it was impossible to say what the effect would be on tenants but he was worried.

"This small organisation has no experience of being a landlord at all and the Government is asking them to overnight become one of the biggest landlords in the country."

The Government said it was confident tenants would be well looked after.

Mr English said there would be no immediate impact on tenants, with existing tenancy agreements transferring to the company with no change.

"Driving through some of the deprived areas of Tāmaki makes plain why the Government is determined to do a better job of social housing," Mr English said.

"It also illustrates the development opportunities in some of the Housing New Zealand-dominated suburbs in Auckland. The Government owns one in 16 houses in Auckland and we need to do a better job with them for the sake of tenants and aspiring homeowners, as well as for the neighbourhoods they live in and the wider city."

He said the company planned to replace 2500 homes over the next 10 to 15 years with about 7500 new ones.

"Over half of the new houses will be sold to help offset construction costs, and the remainder will be retained as social housing. Our bottom line is that there will be at least as many social houses in Tāmaki as the 2800 there now."

The Cabinet has approved a $200 million loan facility for the company to speed up the regeneration work at Tāmaki.

The loan facility is to be made available ahead of the transfer of the homes in order to allow the company to progress its own development and planning.

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