Community Housing Providers frequently asked questions

On this page you'll find answers to frequently asked questions for Community Housing Providers.

What rent does a social housing tenant pay?

The rent paid by the tenant is the rate of income-related rent (IRR) calculated for the tenant by the Ministry of Social Development (MSD). This calculation is based on the household income.

The calculated rate of IRR is the amount of rent the client pays their landlord, regardless of the market rent for the property.

The rate of IRR will be reassessed if a client’s circumstances change. For example, if they go into work, stop work or go into a relationship.

What is the rate of rent in advance and bond based on?

Rent in advance and bond payments are based on the rent the client pays. For a social housing client this is the calculated rate or IRR, not the market rent.

A landlord can ask a tenant to pay a maximum of two weeks rent in advance and four weeks rent as a bond. This is set out in the Building and Housing information available through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website:

What rent do I put on the Tenancy Agreement

The rent to be paid by the tenant at the start of the tenancy is the rent that goes on the Tenancy Agreement.

That will be the tenants calculated rate of IRR (at the start of the tenancy), not the market rent of the property.

If the tenants calculated rate of IRR is higher than the market rent for the property then you will need to put the amount of the market rent in the tenancy agreement. You cannot charge the tenant more than the market rent.

If a tenant is paying market rent however, the provider is not able to claim an income-related rent subsidy (IRRS).

For further information about Tenancy Agreements go to:

Some of the timeframes for getting information back to the Ministry seem tight, why?

Clients referred to a social housing provider are not available for referral to another provider until we receive the outcome of the initial referral.

It is therefore important that MSD is told the outcome as quickly as possible so that the client is not disadvantaged by being unavailable for referral to another provider if they are not placed.

I offer services to patients referred from the local District Health Board and only want referrals of these clients from the social housing register.

MSD may not know if the client is a patient of a DHB. Clients referred to social housing providers are those with the highest housing need. If a client has identified particular health or disability needs in their housing assessment, this information will be noted in the referral.

What type of health and disability information can you send us?

In general, MSD will pass on health and disability information about clients to housing providers that is directly related to their housing need. For example, specific requests for a modified property because of the clients health condition or disability.

If there is other health or disability information you need to make a decision about a referral (before allocating or letting your property) you can ask MSD to consider providing it to you; where we have it.

With regard to mental health conditions, not all clients are comfortable in disclosing the degree or severity of their condition. In most cases MSD will not know the exact details of these conditions.

If you are providing a specialist service it is often best to have a more detailed discussion with the client. This will help you to understand whether they are a good fit with your service and the housing you have available.

We run a number of services for people and have our own housing register. Can we place people from our register into a vacant property?

The assessment of housing need was transferred to the Ministry of Social Development from Housing New Zealand on 14 April 2014. At the same time the income-related rent subsidy (IRRS) was made available to community housing providers.

To be part of the IRRS scheme social housing applicants must be screened and their housing need assessed by MSD. An approved social housing provider may only claim IRRS for applicants referred to them from the social housing register managed by MSD.

As a housing provider you may house other people under your own criteria at any time; but you will not be able to claim IRRS. For non-IRRS tenancies the individual tenant is able to test their eligibility for an accommodation supplement.

We are a contracted community housing provider. We have a tenant in our property that can no longer pay market rent. Can we apply for IRRS for this tenant?

If a non-social housing tenant is struggling to afford their rent they can ask MSD if they are eligible for financial assistance, including an accommodation supplement. MSD is able to talk to them about their situation and may be able to offer a range of other services.

The tenant is also able to discuss their housing need with MSD and their eligibility for social housing. This will involve an initial screening and then full assessment (if they qualify) of their housing need and their income.

It is the tenant who needs to make this application to MSD. If they become a priority applicant on the social housing register they will be able to be referred to any social housing provider with a suitable property for their circumstance; in the area they wish to live.