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Housing NZ to reimburse hundreds evicted on flawed meth testing

A woman who was evicted from her state home. Photo / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Housing New Zealand has committed to compensating hundreds of tenants it evicted from state homes based on bogus meth testing, some of whom were made homeless.

A report ordered by Housing Minister Phil Twyford has found roughly 800 tenants suffered as a result of the agency's approach which it said was "wrong and ignored many of the issues".

Affected tenants are expected to receive between $2500 and $3000, which would cost up to $2.4 million.

They will also receive a formal apology from Housing NZ.

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Mr Twyford said the approach to methamphetamine from 2013 was a "moral and fiscal failure'' that led to the "wellbeing of tenants being ignored''.

Housing NZ chief executive Andrew McKenzie said he apologised in June to the tenants and families affected and does so again to those who had their lives "disrupted''.

"We plan to put things right, and that means not just looking to re-house those tenants who had their tenancies ended but to provide other forms of assistance,'' he said.

Mr McKenzie said the agency would assess each individual's case and work to put it right.

Housing NZ will offer a range of assistance options including discretionary grants for household items and moving costs, cancellation of all methamphetamine-related debt and a refund of any money paid and re-housing of tenants who used to be HNZ tenants but were moved.

The report said Housing NZ had failed, in some individual cases, to follow the principles of natural justice.

In May, a report by the prime minister's chief science adviser found there has never been a documented case of someone getting sick from third-hand exposure to meth.

It followed a warning from the country's top scientists saying New Zealand has been gripped by the hysteria of people testing their homes for meth.

Mr Twyford at the time said dodgy meth contamination rules had led to hundreds of millions of dollars being wasted and needless clean-ups and evictions.

Since 2015, Housing NZ has pursued dozens of tenants through the Tenancy Tribunal for the cost of testing and cleaning state houses where traces of methamphetamine had been found.

After the release of the report, RNZ in August reported it took Housing NZ nearly a month after learning the meth testing regime was bogus before it called off the debt collectors.

This article was originally published by RNZ.