18 Jan 2013

Mayor assured derelict properties will be upgraded

6:03 pm on 18 January 2013

Lower Hutt's mayor says he has been assured that Housing New Zealand will start upgrading abandoned properties in the city in a few months' time.

Housing New Zealand has removed 265 tenants from 85 properties assessed as earthquake-prone, 45 in Lower Hutt and 23 in a single street.

Residents in neighbouring properties have complained that the boarded-up houses are attracting vandals and thieves, despite assurances they would be maintained and monitored.

They have also raised concerns that the government agency has not said how long it will take until the houses are strengthened or demolished

Mayor Ray Wallace says Housing New Zealand has told him it will begin upgrading some of the houses in March and has increased security in the area.

One woman who lives in an area surrounded by abandoned houses says grass at the properties is waist-high and people have broken through boarded up windows to steal scrap metal.

She says she sent dozens of emails to Housing New Zealand, but no action was taken until she alerted the media and the mayor.

Housing New Zealand says it had accidentally failed to schedule maintenance work on some properties.

It says it already had plans in place to fix the problem before a resident contacted the media and Mr Wallace.