SHAN calls for independent assessment of meth-testing compensation claims by Housing New Zealand tenants
State Housing Action Network has written to Housing Minister Phil Twyford asking the government to appoint an independent group to assess compensation claims from tenants and families evicted in Housing New Zealand’s meth-testing fiasco.
We have told Twyford that HNZ cannot be trusted to treat residents fairly, reasonably and respectfully and that compensation be negotiated through an independent agency.
At the corporate level HNZ lacks even the bare basics of compassion in their treatment of tenants. They must be required to stand aside from this compensation process.
Based on our legal advice Housing New Zealand has breached the Residential Tenancies Act, its own tenancy agreements and has failed in its common law duty of care to its tenants.
Depending on the circumstances evicted tenants may be able to claim:
(i) Apologies for the stress, hurt and humiliation caused by the misapplication of the testing guidelines resulting in eviction.
(ii) Substantial compensation for the illegal disposal of any of their possessions by Housing New Zealand. Additional compensation should be claimed for emotional loss relating to disposal of irreplaceable personal items of emotional significance eg wedding photos.
(iii) Repayment of any money paid to HNZ for meth testing or remediation carried out under the bogus meth standards.
(iv) Repayment of rent paid in the private sector above what the tenant was paying to HNZ from the time they were evicted until they are reinstated in HNZ Income Related Rent Tenancy.
(v) Damages for stress, hurt and humiliation.
(vi) Exemplary damages.
(vii) Being placed on the HNZ/WINZ priority list for a state house in a mutually agreed area.
(viii) That HNZ apply to the Tenancy Tribunal to quash any Tribunal decisions relating to the tenant which could negatively affect their future chances of obtaining a tenancy.
(ix) Any legal expenses incurred by the tenant in the pursuit of a claim.
(x) All compensation payments to be made ex gratia and NOT to be treated as income by HNZ or WINZ.
We have told Phil Twyford the government must ensure HNZ tenants are treated as generously as farmers who were recently allocated $500 million in compensation for the Mycoplasma Bovis outbreak and the wealthy investors in South Canterbury Finance who were compensated $1.7 billion by National in 2010.