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Government wipes debt for social housing tenants evicted over flawed meth testing

The Ministry of Social Development will wipe the debt of tenants who incurred costs due to flawed methamphetamine testing at their properties, the Government says.

Housing New Zealand (HNZ) ended 800 tenancies between July 2013 and June of 2018 as a result of its policy for meth contamination.

In June of 2018, HNZ concluded that its policy on low-level meth detections was unnecessary after then-Chief Science Adviser Sir Peter Gluckman said there is no evidence that third-hand exposure to meth causes adverse health effects.

As a result of losing their tenancies for meth detection, many of those evicted incurred significant debts.

In a release today, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni said some people were wrongly evicted and that their related debts will be written off.

"This is one more way we can right things for people who needed emergency housing and other MSD support after their Housing NZ tenancies ended because of erroneous meth contamination policies," she said.

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

"The debt is a burden for many and has caused distress for those who lost their homes through no fault of their own.

"MSD will also refund any money people have already paid back. Payments to these people will start from mid-April and MSD hopes to have everyone paid by mid-year."

Any money refunded to clients in this situation will not affect their other payments from MSD, as Cabinet has agreed to exempt these payments from MSD asset and income testing for 12 months.  

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More 800 tenancies were ended between 2013 and last year, based on a deeply flawed policy. Source: 1 NEWS