Kāinga Ora moves on ‘disruptive households’ but neighbors say it’s not enough
Kāinga Ora has received hundreds of complaints about problem tenants and moved dozens since changes were made to the Residential Tenancies Act.
But some people feel that not enough is being done to protect neighbors from disruptive behavior by tenants.
Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act earlier this year meant that Kāinga Ora could give tenants a warning for serious disruptive behavior and if a tenant received three warnings within 90 days, Kāinga Ora could ask the tenancy court to end the tenancy.
Information disseminated to Things under the Official Information Act showed that Kāinga Ora received 1858 complaints from February 1 to April 30.
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Maria talks about her experiences living in fear in her Kāinga Ora home alongside other residents due to a disruptive neighbor who was arrested and charged with a death threat.
All complaints, ranging from not mowing a lawn or the sound of a car to more serious behavior, fall into one category and cannot be broken down to each complaint, a Kāinga Ora spokesperson said.
Auckland had the most complaints during this period with 819, Christchurch second with 186 and Hamilton third with 154. Wellington had 68, Whangarei 66, Palmerston North 43 and Napier 39.
Since January, 62 households have been relocated by agreement for disruptive behavior.
There had been no cases where a tenant had received three warnings, so Kāinga Ora had not asked the tenancy court to end a tenancy, nor evicted anyone.
Kāinga Ora said most of the time he was able to “resolve issues or initiate a move for the client without the need to resort to eviction”.
Between February 1 and May 5, four warnings were issued for serious behavior, with one tenant receiving a second warning.
Taranaki, Whanganui, Manawatū manager of Kāinga Ora, Graeme Broderick, said most of Kāinga Ora’s 200,000 tenants were good neighbours, but a small number of instances of disruptive behavior “caused stressful and unacceptable conditions ” for the neighbors, to whom he had undertaken to respond.
Kāinga Ora’s first approach was to support behavior change, but she could also issue notices of violation and warnings.
He had seen encouraging signs of tenants changing their behavior, Broderick said.
Caroline Hay lives in Kāinga Ora housing at Feilding in Manawatū, where there had been 11 complaints during the period.
Hay lives in fear after being terrorized by a neighbor in another nearby Kāinga Ora house. The man threatened her and another neighbor and damaged their property.
She said that although the man was now living in a mental health facility, her house was empty and she still did not feel safe.
She didn’t think Kāinga Ora was doing enough to protect people from bad behavior.
“No, they don’t because our appeals weren’t heard until we went to the media. They jumped for joy and said “we will relocate you”, but my son and I are happy here.
“I’ve been here for 12 years, we don’t want to move.”
A woman who lives at Westbrook in Palmerston North, who did not want to be identified for security reasons, had problems living next to a Kāinga Ora house and filed multiple complaints against the tenant.
She felt ignored by Kāinga Ora, so hired a lawyer to ask the organization to move the tenants. They left three weeks ago, she said.
” I do not think so [Kāinga Ora] took me seriously until I called a lawyer. They kept saying ‘yes, yes, yes’, for two or three weeks, and then it didn’t happen. I shouldn’t have to hire a lawyer.
The woman thought the tenant would still be there if she hadn’t hired a lawyer.
She felt the same as Hay about Kāinga Ora’s efforts to protect neighbors from disruptive tenants.
“Kāinga Ora is doing his best to ignore the situation and postpone as best he can.”
Broderick could not go into detail about Hay’s situation without a confidentiality waiver, but said Kāinga Ora was working with tenants and other agencies to find a solution.
Of Westbrook’s situation, Broderick said the neighbors could not be expected to put up with “intolerable situations” and that Kāinga Ora was committed to responding to disruptive behavior.
“However, the process we have to go through in these situations can take time, which we appreciate can be difficult for neighbours.”
Broderick said it took longer than expected to find a new home for the tenant.
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