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New twist in state house sell-off saga

The Government has opened the door to buyers of state houses simply being landlords and not required to provide social services, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

The Prime Minister said at his post-Cabinet press conference buyers would not “have to provide social services but they could potentially provide social services either of their own accord or in conjunction with someone else”.

Phil Twyford says this latest twist would allow a foreign company to buy billions of dollars’ worth of land and houses – make a killing on the capital gain – and just contract out the tenancy management and social services to a community group or form a ‘consortium’ with one.

“With Auckland house prices going up by $115,000 in the past year, foreign companies will have dollar signs in their eyes.

“This latest policy demolishes the Government’s claim its state house sell-off is about delivering better services to tenants. If a foreign company can buy up thousands of houses and contract out the tenancy services, why doesn’t the Government just keep the houses and contract out the services?

“The Prime Minister acknowledges that even troubled multinational prison operator Serco could buy the state houses by simply registering as a ‘community housing provider’ or entering into a consortium with one.

“Every pathetic justification for the state house sell off has fallen away as the Government has lurched from one desperate idea to the next.

“First the houses were in the wrong place and wrong size, then the Salvation Army and iwi were supposed to buy them, but that was not true. Then the sell-off was needed because local groups could do a better job. Now the Government wants to sell to offshore companies,” Phil Twyford says.