Buller District Council has signed an 18-month lease agreement with the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment’s (MBIE) Temporary Accommodation Service (TAS) to take over the management of 12 houses in Paparoa Way.
The 12 two-to-three-bedroom houses are part of the temporary accommodation village that was built as a result of the July 2021 floods in Westport. A total of 20 houses were placed at Paparoa Way (Alma Road) to meet the longer-term need for temporary housing for flood affected residents.
Demand for TAS support is reducing with only eight households displaced by the flooding remaining. MBIE is working through a divestment process for the properties, which is envisaged to take around 18 months.
“While MBIE works through the divestment process, it has asked council to consider subleasing the houses to enable a wider range of people to make use of these brand-new houses,” said Council’s chief financial officer, Douglas Marshall.
“The reason is that TAS cannot lease these houses to tenants who do not meet their strict criteria of being displaced by the Westport flooding event, however council can.”
TAS’ criteria only allow people with temporary accommodation needs after a civil emergency to move in, and this means that several of the houses have been and are currently vacant.
“Considering the current rental shortage in Buller, we are very pleased that TAS has been open to us taking over the lease. Getting another 12 houses on the local rental market, as and when they become vacant, will have a positive impact. Lots of new employees coming into town struggle to find a place to live and employers struggle to attract new workers because of this,” said Mr Marshall.
Council has engaged local company Property Brokers to manage the houses at Paparoa Way. It said Property Brokers were chosen from the two real estate companies that submitted a proposal as part of a tender process.
“Property Brokers will oversee the advertising, tenant selection and ongoing management of the properties. At this stage, council is not expecting to be the long-term landlord of these houses,” Mr Marshall said.
The houses will be advertised by Property Brokers on their website, TradeMe and Realestate.co.nz from this week onwards. Council says households being supported by TAS have been informed about the change in management.