Living in public housing

What happens when you live in public housing and what you need to do.

Tell us if something changes

You need to let us know straight away about any changes in circumstances for you and your partner, no matter how much rent you pay. This could be changes to: 

  • income
  • assets
  • people moving in or out of the property
  • children in your care, eg having a child or changing custody arrangements.

Changes may affect the amount of rent you pay, whether you still qualify for public housing, or whether the property you're in is still suitable for you. 

If you don't let us know, you could end up paying the wrong amount of rent and may have a debt to pay back. Or you may only get a few weeks' notice before your rent goes up.

How to tell us

If you get:

You need to call: 

a benefit or extra help payments from Work and Income

Work and Income on 0800 559 009
NZ Super or Veteran's Pension Senior Services on 0800 552 002
no payments from Work and Income or Senior Services Housing Unit on 0800 673 468

How long you can stay in public housing

When you move into public housing, you can stay for as long as you qualify.

From time to time, we'll review a tenancy to see if:

  • you still qualify for public housing, and
  • the property still meets your needs.

If you're ready to move into private housing, we can look at what products and services are available to help you. You may be able to get help with bond, rent in advance or other things.

Your rent payments

The amount of rent you pay will be based on your income. It may also include the income of people living with you, it depends on your living situation.

We’ll work out how much rent you’ll need to pay - this is called Income Related Rent.

You'll need to pay your Income Related Rent to your landlord. If you get a benefit, New Zealand Superannuation or Veteran's Pension from Work and Income, they'll pay your Income Related Rent directly to your landlord.

If you disagree with our decision about your income-related rent, talk to us. We may be able to solve the problem or explain the decision. If you still disagree, you can apply for a review of decision.

We'll review your rent payments every year

We'll send you a letter every year to see if any of your circumstances have changed. If there are changes, it may affect how much income-related rent you pay. 

You need to check the information in the letter to see if it's still correct. If your circumstances:

  • have changed, tell us by calling the correct number in the 'How to tell us' section.
    • You may need to provide proof of these changes - if so, we'll tell you what documents you need to provide.
  • haven't changed, sign the form and return it to us by the date in your letter.

If your circumstances have changed, we'll calculate your correct income-related rent amount. Your landlord will send you a letter to let you know how much it is.

Issues with paying rent or property maintenance

If you have any questions or concerns about the property (such as repairs that need to be done), contact your landlord.

If you have a problem paying your rent, you also need to talk to your landlord.

Rent arrears

You may be in a situation where you haven't been able to pay your rent and your landlord is now asking you to pay it.

You need to talk to your landlord first to see if you can make a payment arrangement with them. If this is not possible, Work and Income may be able to help.