27 Jun 2015

Govt may sell state houses to Australians

6:31 pm on 27 June 2015

The Government says it will sell hundreds of state houses to an Australian housing provider or any overseas group if they fit the criteria.

Bill English during caucus run 23/06/2015

Bill English Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A Gold Coast-based community housing provider Horizon Housing has been here looking at the houses this week and says it wants to buy at least 400.

Housing Minister Bill English said social housing groups in Australia and Britain would be able to buy the state houses if they registered as community housing providers.

"Anyone that wants to have a go at this will have to show that they've got the capacity to manage the properties, to manage the finances, to look after the tenants and to help redevelop our social housing community."

Mr English said no deals would be finalised before the end of the year.

Earlier this year the Government announced plans to sell thousands of state houses to social-housing providers by 2017, but no major local provider has yet been identified.

The state house in Bryndwr, Christchurch, in which John Key was raised.

A state house in Christchurch Photo: RNZ / Patrick Phelps

Labour's housing spokesman Phil Twyford said it was the latest lurch in a half-baked housing policy.

"The Salvation Army ruled themselves out from buying them, iwi said they'd only buy them if they got them for nothing, they're so desperate to offload these state houses they're even willing to sell them off-shore."

Horizon Housing's chief executive Jason Cubit said he was keen to expand.

"So far it looks interesting to us - we'd like to expand our business because we're good at it and we [will] hopefully make some surpluses and re-invest it into the community."

Green Party co-leader Meteria Turei said an Australian social-housing provider could become one of New Zealand's wealthiest and most powerful landlords if it is allowed to buy state houses being offered for sale.

Ms Turei said state houses should be run by Housing New Zealand working with local social- housing groups.

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