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National 'not putting up with' state housing frauds

Published: 10:05AM Wednesday August 22, 2012 Source: ONE News/ Fairfax

The National Party is touting the eviction of more than 300 state housing tenants who lied about their circumstances a success.

New figures show the number of tenancies ended for dishonesty has been steadily rising over the past few years. In the past year 312 tenancies were terminated, up from 241 last year and 114 in 2010.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley said a total of 709 houses had been freed up for people on the waiting list.

"I think right across the benefit system in New Zealand we get a minority who take the mickey, and in some cases those who do serious criminal activity. The reality is we're not putting up with it anymore."

Two Auckland tenants operated an internet business with 300 residential customers from their state house which generated $393,000 between 2006 and 2010. They have been sentenced to community work and ordered to pay reparation.

In another case a former tenant was ordered by the courts to repay more than $75,000 in rental subsidies because she had not declared she had a partner.

Other tenants were evicted for subletting their properties or not declaring employment or assets.

In the past year, Housing NZ had uncovered $9.6 million in overpaid rent subsidies, taking the total over the past four years to nearly $23.3 million.

"Housing NZ has worked hard to identify and remove tenants committing fraud and to make sure those most in need are assisted for as long as they have that need.

"We have built a very effective and skilled team of investigators who are very good at detecting, investigating and dealing with tenants who are deliberately ripping off the system," Heatley said.

Since July last year, Housing NZ had successfully prosecuted 120 tenants for fraud. Of those, three received jail sentences, 42 received home or community detention, 45 were given community work, five had to pay reparation, four were convicted and discharged and 21 are still awaiting sentencing.

Labour MP Annette King says the Minister should be giving credit to the Labour Party because they set up the investigation team.

"I'm pleased they're picking up people who are defrauding the system it's not right."