Response for ODT reporter Lee Harris

  • Murray McCully

Housing Minister Murray McCully says Labour MP Pete Hodgsons grumbles about the bad old days show he appears to have "spent too much time lying in the sun over the New Year holiday break".

"There is an interim freeze for Housing New Zealand tenants while the Government reviews the adequacy of current income support measures for all low income households. While I served as Duty Minister during the Christmas/New Year holidays, my officials were working on that review.

"Some $631 M was originally set aside for the Accommodation Supplement alone in 1996-97, with payments to go to more than 275,000 households. The coalition agreement contemplates a significant increase in this assistance.

"Many recipients still have additional capacity to access the Accommodation Supplement," Mr McCully said. "For eligible low income renters or boarders, the Government will pay them two dollars for every one they have to provide where their rent costs are in excess of 25 percent of their net income.

"In addition, under the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act, the interim rent freeze for Housing New Zealand tenants will be automatically extended for an additional 60 days after its official end.

"The 60 day notice period is required to be given under the Act before any rents can be increased," he said.

"But with any freeze, there is a swings-and-roundabouts situation hinging on the starting and ending dates.

"Some Housing New Zealand tenants have received rent review notices before the 11 December start of the interim freeze for rent adjustments occurring up to 60 days afterwards.

"Other tenants should benefit by having their rent levels frozen for at least 60 days after the interim freeze officially ends."