HELP to house Cantabrians

  • Phil Heatley
Housing Earthquake Recovery

Housing Minister Phil Heatley is appealing to homeowners with unoccupied properties in Canterbury to help put a roof over the head of people who need a home in the wake of the Canterbury earthquake.

A new programme, the Housing Emergency Lease Programme (HELP), will see Housing New Zealand Corporation (HNZC) managing the rental of private homes to people whose own home has been deemed uninhabitable.

The intent is to source houses that would not usually be offered for lease, including farm cottages, holiday homes and homes that may have otherwise been intended for sale.

"Many people have no experience with, have never considered or don't want the hassle of renting out their property but we need them to consider it now," says Mr Heatley.

"We are primarily appealing to people with unoccupied second properties in the Canterbury region, but houses in nearby regions could also be considered on a case by case basis.

"A number of people in Canterbury cannot return to their homes and while many are making arrangements with insurers or friends and family, there are some who need short or medium term accommodation, while their homes are repaired or rebuilt.

"HNZC is going to step up and help these people find a home and I would like to see Cantabrians come forward and let us know if they have a property where these people can live," he said.

HELP is designed to link property owners with those needing short term accommodation. It will be administered by HNZC who will create leases, collect rent and ensure a house is returned to the homeowner in the same condition as that when first leased.

"This programme will take the hassle out of finding a home for people who have already been through a traumatic experience," says Mr Heatley.

Tenants will not have to pay a bond and rental payments can be deferred for the first month.

"Property owners will be encouraged to enter the programme as all the hard work will be done on their behalf by HNZC. Under the programme property owners able to provide suitable homes for two, three or four months will receive an average market rent and a no-cost property management service," says Mr Heatley.

Those who lost their homes in the quake will be assessed and prioritised according to their need.  Every effort will be made to accommodate those with work or children in school, in a nearby area.

HNZC will be working closely with the Ministry of Social Development on this important task.

"This is a coordinated government response. Postponing rent payment for a month if required will give people a chance to speak with relevant government agencies such as MSD to get any additional help and support they require," says Mr Heatley.

"My office is also coordinating housing made available by other government departments. Currently Defence and Education are checking their housing stocks and will add suitable accommodation into the leasing pool."

Property owners who are able to place properties in the scheme should register with the HELP team at Housing New Zealand on 0800 435700 (0800 HELP00). You can register online at


For more information about what earthquake assistance is available from MSD please visit the website.