Government to wipe debts for tenants evicted due to flawed methamphetamine contamination policies

The Government will wipe the debts of Housing New Zealand tenants that were wrongly evicted due to flawed methamphetamine contamination policies.

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said in a statement on Wednesday people ended up incurring extra costs due to wrongful eviction.

"Some people who lost their homes then turned to [The Ministry for Social Development (MSD)] for support for things like emergency housing, moving costs, storage, replacement furniture, school uniforms or bond and rent in advance.

"MSD granted the support but people were required to pay back the money and some fell into significant debt."

Tenants who have already paid off some of the debt will have the money refunded to them, payments will start from mid-April.

Housing New Zealand ended 800 tenancies between July 2013 and June 2018 due to meth contamination.

A review in 2018 found the policy of eviction for low levels of meth contamination was unnecessary.

Green Party leader Marama Davidson said in a statement she's pleased to be part of a Government that recognised the stress wrongful evictions had on families.

Auckland Action Against Poverty coordinator Ricardo Menendez March said the wiping of debt was a step towards justice, but the Government should go further.

"The Government should look at compensation for the private debt incurred as a result of these wrongful evictions," he said

"While affected tenants would have had to look for assistance from the Ministry of Social Development, many who were unable to access adequate support would have needed to take on additional credit card debt, bank loans or fallen prey to shark loans.

"If true justice is to be delivered to the tenants affected by the meth testing regime, then compensation needs to account for all the financial costs incurred, not just the ones directly with the Ministry of Social Development."