2 Jan 2013

Housing NZ says it's still monitoring abandoned houses

5:19 pm on 2 January 2013

Housing New Zealand says it is taking action to stop abandoned houses becoming an eyesore and a magnet for crime.

The agency has removed 265 tenants from 85 properties which have been assessed as earthquake prone.

Forty five of the abandoned houses are in the Hutt Valley and Hutt City Mayor, Ray Wallace, plans to raise concerns with Housing New Zealand that houses are looking derelict and the boarded-up properties have been sprayed with graffiti.

Mr Wallace says the council was assured the houses would be well maintained while awaiting strengthening or demolition.

Housing New Zealand says it has boarded up windows and doors to protect both the houses and the safety of people who might try to get in.

It says it is also continuing to mow lawns and regularly checking the properties.

However, Mr Wallace says if Housing New Zealand fails to prevent the empty buildings being covered with graffiti the council will clean them up itself and then bill the agency.

Some tenants unhappy about alternative housing

Housing New Zealand said the 85 earthquake-prone properties are scattered around the North Island in Gisborne and Hawke's Bay to Palmerston North and Hutt Valley.

The 265 Housing New Zealand tenants in those houses were given 90 days notice to vacate them in September, but some are unhappy with where they have been moved to.

However, the agency said it's been doing as much as it can to relocate them, including helping with some of the relocation costs.

In May, Housing NZ gave 131 tenants at the Gordon Wilson flats on The Terrace in Wellington a week's notice to leave because the building was dangerous.

Housing New Zealand said on Wednesday it had not heard from any tenants who are unhappy after being moved from earthquake prone buildings.

The agency said it has not received any complaints about the relocations and had worked closely with clients to make sure their needs are met.

Housing NZ earlier said it will demolish or sell some of the buildings.

Some will be strengthened, some will be sold, while others will be demolished and the land held for future development.

The agency said it will regularly monitor the abandoned properties to deter vandals and thieves.