Tenancy managers overcome obstacles
Dealing with noisy tenants and property damage is all in a day’s work for Housing NZ staff.
East and South Auckland regional manager Karen Hitchcock leads a team that looks after 15,500 homes. She says local tenancy managers each have about 280 properties in their portfolios.
‘‘We only house people who are the highest priority on the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing register.
‘‘We’re a social landlord, but we’re also more than that. We’ve got more families now who are struggling and have got complex needs than we did five years ago.’’
Those on the social housing register have an A or B priority rating that indicates their need.
Those with an A rating are the first to be helped into a home by Housing NZ or another provider. Hitchcock says the agency inspects most of its properties at least once a year.
‘‘Under the Residential Tenancies Act we can inspect them every four weeks and we do for some of them, but the majority of our families are not on that inspection cycle.’’
When a tenancy manager receives a complaint about a tenant they will first meet with them to discuss the problem, Hitchcock says. Most minor issues can be resolved with a conversation.
‘‘We remind them of their obligation and find out if we need to get anyone else involved to provide support. We can put a household action plan in place and we try to deal with it before it escalates.’’
When a tenancy needs to be ended the tenant can be evicted, Hitchcock says. Reasons may include physical harm toward a Housing NZ tenancy manager or contractor, or a neighbour.
‘‘We will terminate a tenancy if a house is no longer safe to live in through methamphetamine contamination, or if the tenant is using the premises for illegal activity such as supplying drugs.’’
Tavai Karapani is the agency’s area manager for Manukau. She’s in charge of 10 tenancy and two senior managers.
The challenges local tenancy managers deal with include antisocial behaviour, noise issues, damage to the property, alcohol and drugs, and disputes with neighbours, she says.
Karapani says the agency’s tenancy managers want their clients to succeed.
‘‘I’d like the public to know that we do care. They [tenants] are the reasons why we serve people. They do matter to us.’’