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State houses in Christchurch up for sale

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 23/11/2016 Sean Martin

The government intends selling up to 2500 state houses in Christchurch to a community housing provider.

Bill English, the minister responsible for Housing NZ, says the proposal is for a single transaction of HNZ properties to a provider who is still to be chosen.

HNZ will continue to own and manage about 3900 properties in the city.

"The proposal is for a single transfer transaction of between 2000 to 2500 HNZ properties, mainly in Bryndwyr, Riccarton and Shirley," Mr English said on Thursday.

"In Christchurch, Housing New Zealand has done an excellent job of repairing and rebuilding its earthquake-damaged stock but one in five of those properties are under-utilised."

He says selling the houses creates the opportunity for a private provider to renew, reconfigure and develop the properties to best match demand, and finish remediation work.

It's the second tranche of the government's social housing reform programme - more than 1000 properties in Tauranga are being taken over by a private provider, Accessible Properties.

An attempt to sell 348 Invercargill houses fell through because a buyer couldn't be found, and earlier this week a proposal to sell 249 HNZ properties and 115 council pensioner units in Foxton, Levin and Shannon was put on hold because of problems around treaty claims.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says it's the government's "clear expectation" that the successful bidder for the Christchurch houses will improve the quality of service to tenants.

"As we have said of other transfers, our bottom line is that tenant rights will remain the same and tenants will continue to be housed for the duration of their need," she said.

The aim of the reform programme is more diverse ownership of social housing and through that improved services for tenants.

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