Homeowner says Kāinga Ora told her to move after she complained about disruptive neighbours

By Robin Martin for RNZ 

An Auckland homeowner who says she was advised to sell up and move out to get away from unruly Kāinga Ora neighbours has taken a complaint to the Ombudsman.

After enduring five years of illegal drag racing, loud parties and street fighting, the woman said she was horrified when a Kāinga Ora representative suggested she move because there was little the housing agency could do to help her.

Kāinga Ora denies its staff advised her to move.

The woman, who RNZ has agreed not to identify, said problems began shortly after her husband and two young children moved into their new home in 2017.

Loud parties at three neighbouring properties would regularly burst into massive brawls.

One such fight spread right across the road.

"There were about 30 people having a proper full-out brawl outside [our place] and then a gang member turned up with a machete and parked loosely in the middle of the road.

"There were people beating each up everywhere and you kinda thought 'are we in the middle of a riot or something?'"

The woman said police in riot gear broke up that brawl while her terrified children were in tears looking on.

She estimated she and her husband had called noise control more than 50 times and contacted police about 30 times since 2017.

Earlier this year, police told her they were Kāinga Ora properties and to seek help from the agency.

The woman said an agency representative told her it was difficult to move the tenants.

"She said 'we can't move them. It's really hard - where are we going to move them? It's just moving the problem somewhere else.

"'And, you know, it's just kinda how it is. We don't have a lot of places to put these people and we'll just try and get them to sort it out.

"'It's the government policy which makes it just about impossible for us to move difficult tenants'."

The woman said a Kāinga Ora staff member rubbed salt in the wound - suggesting she move out.

"She kinda said to me 'why don't you move?', and I said 'because I own my bloody house that's why and why the bleeding heck would I move, I'm not the one causing trouble'."

The woman complained to the Ombudsman arguing Kāinga Ora was not fulfilling its obligations under the Residential Tenancies Act.

Dene Andre, who chairs a South Auckland residents association representing about 5000 households, is familiar with the case and said he did not rate Kāinga Ora as a landlord.

"What we find is that they're the worst landlord we've ever seen because they don't acknowledge their responsibilities under the Act properly.

"Those responsibilities deal with the peace and tranquillity of neighbours as much as of their tenants."

Kāinga Ora also has the power to move disruptive tenants on via a three strikes facility in the Act.

To suggest a homeowner leave was a bit rich, Andre said.

"To sell and move is a sort of very glib answer. It suggests the person complaining is at fault. It's the Kāinga Ora tenant that is the issue.

"They've got the power under the Act to deal with it, but they are refusing to exercise that power."

Kāinga Ora Counties-Manukau regional director Angela Pearce said it had received eight complaints from the Auckland woman since March - most about car noise which it acknowledged had been disruptive.

"When these complaints have been raised with us, our team has thoroughly looked into them, including speaking with our customers to get their version of events, while being clear about their responsibilities and our expectations around acceptable behaviour."

Pearce said the Kāinga Ora staff member involved did not advise the woman to move out.

No one else has complained about the properties, she said.

"The vast majority of the almost 200,000 people living in Kāinga Ora homes are good neighbours and members of their communities.

"When problems arise, Kāinga Ora takes complaints very seriously and work hard to achieve positive outcomes for both the people we house and their communities."

The Office of the Ombudsman confirmed it had received a complaint against Kāinga Ora from the Auckland woman.

It was currently investigating 18 complaints about Kāinga Ora - nine under the Official Information Act, nine under the Ombudsmen Act.