Tenancy reviews for state housing tenants

Published: 13 November 2017

The Government wants state housing to be available for those people and families most in need.

Tenancy reviews make sure that people living in state housing still need it, and if they do, that the house continues to meet their needs.

It’s important that people who have benefited from state housing and whose situation has improved, are given the support to move into the private rental market or home ownership, if they’re able to.

The Ministry of Social Development (external link) (MSD) is responsible for carrying out tenancy reviews as part of their role to check eligibility for housing. MSD will contact all tenants who are having a tenancy review in plenty of time before the review is started.

The full review process will generally take about 6 months, depending on your circumstances and involves working on a plan with tenants to help them move if they are no longer eligible for state housing.

If it becomes clear at any stage during the review that the tenant still requires state housing support they will be able to stay in state housing.

The criteria used to review whether you are able to stay in state housing will be very similar to those used when you apply for state housing, including:

  • accessibility,
  • affordability and
  • sustainability.

For those tenants who are no longer eligible for state housing, MSD will provide them with options and advice to help them make the move from state housing. This may include offering support with one-off and ongoing costs associated with moving and staying in their new property. At that point Housing New Zealand will provide the tenant with a 90 days notice of the end of their tenancy, as it will be needed by people and families on the social housing register.

More information

Frequently asked questions


Will my tenancy be reviewed?

All tenancies are reviewed to see if they are still able to get public housing. However, initially MSD will only look at tenants who are paying market rent or close to market rent.

The Ministry of Social Development (external link)  (MSD) will be doing the reviews as part of their responsibility for checking people’s eligibility for public housing.

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What happens during a tenancy review?

After MSD has contacted you to let you know about the review, the first step is to meet with you to talk about your situation, and whether you may be able to look at alternative housing options to state housing.

If it looks like you’re able to move, MSD will work with you to develop a plan to move into other housing. Everyone’s plan will be different and depend on their individual circumstances.

If a decision is made that you are no longer able to get state housing, Housing New Zealand will issue a 90 days notice to end your tenancy.

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How will MSD help tenants that are moving?

MSD will work with you on a plan to move into either private housing or other public housing. They will talk with you about your options and give advice that best suits your individual circumstances. 

You can also go to the MSD Housing website (external link) for different housing options and information that may help you to find a house.

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If I’m not able to stay in a state house, what happens?

If you aren’t able to stay, MSD will work with you to help you move into private housing. If there is no suitable private housing available you will not be asked to move.

You can also go to the MSD Housing website (external link) for different housing options and information that may help you to find a house.

If a decision is made that you are no longer able to get state housing, HNZ will issue a 90 day notice to end your tenancy.

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Will I have to move if my house is too big?

MSD will contact HNZ if they find that your needs have changed and you are still eligible for public housing.

If you are living in a home that is too big you may be asked to move to a smaller home if there’s one available.

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I pay a ‘market’ rent but private sector rents are even higher – how am I supposed to afford a private sector rental?

MSD will work with you and help you with the options and advice that are best for your individual situation.

You can also go to the MSD Housing website (external link) for different housing options and information that may help you to find a house.

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I have a large family and there are no private sector rentals big enough for us – will I still be asked to move on from state housing?

MSD will talk to you about your needs. You will be expected to move if there is a suitable house in the private market for you. However, if private housing of the right size is not available you will not be asked to move.

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Why are market renters being targeted? I know someone living on their own in a three-bedroom home and don’t think it’s fair their tenancy isn’t being reviewed.

The aim of tenancy reviews is to make sure that public housing is available for those in greatest need for as long as they need it.  The initial group MSD will focus on, tenants paying market rent or close to it, are those most likely to be able to move. The review will find out if that’s possible.

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Why am I being asked to move when there is another state rental just down the road from me that has been empty for months/years?

Homes are vacant for many reasons. It could be awaiting repairs, be unsafe, or needing earthquake strengthening.  If you let me know the address I will double check that our team is aware of this.

The aim of tenancy reviews is to ensure that public housing is available for those in greatest need for as long as they need it.  The initial group MSD will focus on, tenants paying market rent or close to it, are those most likely to be able to move. The review will find out if that’s possible.

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I’ve lived in my state house for years and my children go to school in the area – what help will I get from Housing New Zealand to help my find another home in the same area?

If MSD contacts you about reviewing your ongoing eligibility for public housing, they will also work with you to provide options and advice about suitable housing in your area. So it is likely that your children may be able to go to the same school.

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I was promised that my state house is for life – I don’t accept that I may need to move, so what are you going to do if I refuse?

State housing is provided for people in greatest need until they are able to move on. If you stay in a state house after MSD has assessed you’re no longer eligible for public housing then Housing New Zealand will give you a 90 days notice of the end of your tenancy.  If you don’t move after that period an eviction notice may be issued to make sure the house is then available for those who are eligible for public housing.

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