Kāinga Ora in the firing line over derelict, rat-infested property in South Auckland

Kāinga Ora is in the firing line over a rundown property in South Auckland, which has recently been gutted by a fire, has rubbish strewn over the property and become a breeding ground for rats.

A nearby resident, who does not want to be named, said she had made between 10 and 15 complaints about issues with the tenant and the state of the property since the middle of last year and nothing has been done.

Manurewa-Papakura councillor Daniel Newman said the property is a disgrace, saying since the fire it has become a breeding ground for vermin and a haven for illegal dumping.

He has complained toKāinga Ora chief executive Andrew McKenzie, requesting the property at 55 Aarts Ave in Manurewa be cleaned up as soon as Auckland moves to level 3.

Kāinga Ora Counties Manukau regional director Angela Pearce said the house at Aarts Ave has been severely fire damaged, vacant since May 2021 and work had now begun to remove the rubbish and secure the site.

The resident said the mess at the property, which includes ripped lounge furniture on the footpath, had been an eyesore for more than a year.

“I thought Housing New Zealand [Kāinga Ora] were supposed to keep their properties up to standard. It has been an ongoing problem with the tenant that lived there,” said the resident.

She said since going to Kāinga Ora in June 12 last year and speaking to a property manager, making between 10 and 15 complaints since then, “nothing has been done to the property and it just gets worse every week”.

“I just feel that Housing NZ just don’t care. They have never come back and said ‘we have looked at the problem, we are going to get this sorted’.

“Surely they are responsible to have their properties clean and tidy. I was told they only do one inspection a year. I think that’s disgusting,” said the resident, adding Aarts Ave was a good street with nice neighbours who look out for each other.

In Newman’s letter to McKenzie, he said Kāinga Ora was free to demolish and redevelop their properties and has been at the vanguard of increasing the supply of social housing in Auckland.

“What I do not accept is the apparent willingness of Kāinga Ora to ignore fair requests by neighbours who have reportedly advisedKāinga Ora on numerous occasions that [the house] was a problem for numerous reasons,” Newman said.

He saidKāinga Ora defined what makes a good neighbour – considerate, tolerant, concerned, responsible and law abiding – but questioned how the housing provider met or exceeded these principles in relation to Aarts Ave.

Pearce said until councillor Newman wrote to the housing agency, it had not received any complaints about dumping on the site since it was vacated, but had received complaints while it was occupied related to antisocial behaviour.

Several of the complaints were referred to police as they involved allegations of criminal activity, and we acknowledge that in other instances our team could have acted more swiftly to address concerns, said Pearce.

“At the time of the fire, Kāinga Ora was actively seeking advice and looking into wider support services for the customer,” she said.

Pearce said Kāinga Ora has sent contractors to clean up the site within level 4 requirements, saying there is a significant amount of rubbish which they estimated would take until at least today (Thursday) to remove and secure the site with temporary fencing.

Kāinga Ora is looking at redevelopment options for the site and neighbouring 57 Aarts Ave.

“Until redevelopment occurs, we will keep the temporary fencing in place and will continue to monitor health and safety and rubbish at the property,” Pearce said.

Charity and secondhand shops around the country are also becoming dump sites as people bag up and box unwanted goods and leave them outside shops in the rain.

The issue has disheartened charity stories, including the Salvation Army, and has triggered concerned Kiwis to post about the mess on social media.

Salvation Army spokeswoman Louise Parry said she appreciated people wanting to donate things they no longer needed, but under level 4 staff are not allowed to go into shops and cannot clear donations outside its Family Stores.

In Canterbury, Waimakariri Council solid waste manager Kitty Waghorn said charity shops are finding hordes of unusable household items and rubbish piling up.

“A lot of people do the right thing, but there are some who think a charity shop is a rubbish dump,” she said.

Auckland Council waste solutions general manager Parul Sood said people caught illegal dumping, and that includes leaving items when a shop is closed, face instant fines of $400 and on successful prosecution, up to $30,000.

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