Applying for income related rent (IRR)


What is Income Related Rent?

Income Related Rent (IRR) is a rent that is subsidised by the government in order to make accommodation more affordable for those on low incomes in public (social) housing. If you qualify for income-related rent, the government pays some of the rent.

If you think you are eligible for social housing, then apply to be on the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) public housing register at Work and Income. You can call Work and Income on 0800 559 009 or if you are over 65 call 0800 552 002. Or visit the Work and Income website to find out more information.

Most social housing with government subsidised rent (Income-Related Rent or IRR) was traditionally provided by Housing New Zealand (now Kāinga Ora), but since April 2014 it is also available from other registered social housing providers. The application process is the same for both types of social housing.

You or your family member may be eligible for this rent subsidy if you are 16 or older. You also need to:

  • have a serious housing need
  • have a low income (the income threshold depends on whether you have a partner and/or dependents)
  • have cash assets worth less than $42,700
  • be a New Zealand citizen, or
  • have been a permanent resident in New Zealand for:
    • at least 2 years, or
    • less than 2 years and you get a main benefit from Work and Income, eg Jobseeker Support, or
  • be getting an Emergency Benefit from Work and Income because you are:
    • a spontaneous refugee
    • a protected person, or
    • compelled to remain in New Zealand.

The IRR is calculated on your income (and that of the people who are living with you at the time you accept a housing offer) and by by adding the following amounts:

  • 25% of you income threshold (after tax), and
  • 50% of your weekly household income (over the income threshold)

You can calculate your IRR on-line or call Work and Income. Work and Income also have a number of Housing Support Products that aim to address barriers to accessing or retaining housing by meeting needs not covered by other forms of assistance.

The rent subsidy is paid to the Community Housing Provider who provides you with your accommodation. There are a number of Community Housing Providers, including Kāinga Ora who provide social housing.

You can find a list of organisations who are registered to provide government-subsidised housing, on the website of the Community Housing Regulatory Authority.

What happens next?

MSD will refer you to a housing provider to be matched to a suitable property. The housing provider could be Kāinga Ora or another provider, such as a community group.

As soon as a home becomes available which is suited to your needs, the housing provider will contact you and show you the property. If you agree to become a tenant there, they’ll draw up a tenancy agreement for you to sign.

The housing provider will then advise MSD that you’ve accepted tenancy at the property, and MSD will then:

  • Calculate your Income-Related Rent (i.e. how much you’ll pay the housing provider – the balance of the rent is paid to the provider by the government)
  • Process your application for bond and rent in advance
  • Redirect the proportion of your benefit which will pay your share of the rent (if you are receiving a Work and Income benefit).

How long will I have to wait for a home?

This will depend on your position on the waiting list (which is determined by your housing needs), how many people on the waiting list have urgent needs, and the availability of suitable homes.

It’s a good idea to look for other rental options while you are on the waiting list, in case you find something suitable yourself.

If your situation changes it’s important to advise MSD, as it could change your position on the waiting list and affect how long you’ll have to wait.

Who administers government-subsidised housing?

The Ministry of Social Development Manages all public housing applications and is responsible for deciding who is eligible for Income-Related Rent (IRR) and managing that process. They receive applications from prospective tenants, determine eligible applicants’ positions on the housing waitlist and calculate how much rent tenants need to pay.

Community Housing providers or Kāinga Ora provides the tenancy and property management services. This includes matching prospective tenants to houses, preparing tenancy agreements, organising repairs and maintenance and collecting rent.

Public Housing Roles and Responsibilities

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