For disabled people limited choices in accessible housing; difficulties in getting necessary housing modifications; a lack of control over their living situation results in some people living in inaccessible and unsafe homes, young disabled people living in retirement homes, and forcing some disabled people into homelessness.

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Types of housing

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Everyone needs a place to call home that is clean, warm, safe and accessible. There are choices but these may be limited, especially for some disabled people. Let’s have a look at some of the options.


Home ownership

Looking at buying your first home but not sure where to start? Kāinga Ora offers several products and resources that can give you a helping hand toward home ownership. Have a look at what could be right for you https://kaingaora.govt.nz/home-ownership/


Renting a home

If you can't afford a private rental, you may be able to live in public housing where the Government pays part of the rent. These are houses that are rented out by Kāinga Ora (used to be Housing New Zealand) and other Community Housing Providers. You need to meet certain criteria to qualify for public housing. If you apply, you may have to wait for a while until a suitable property becomes available.

Kāinga Ora provides State rental housing. They have committed to building at least 15% of new homes to their full universal design standards. They are also focused on providing modifications to their older homes as needed. This means that some of their homes will be accessible for most people.

Accessible Properties has a small number of affordable homes for rent. Many of these have been modified for accessibility.

There are lots of websites where you can look for private housing. It depends if you want to find your own place or flat with others.

It’s a good idea to check the market rent in the suburbs where you want to live. Then you can see roughly how much you'll need to pay. Market rent is how much most people are paying for rental properties in each area.


Find a property or look for flatmates - Trade Me

Find a rental - RealEstate.co.nz

Look for a flat - nzflatmates.co.nz

Market rent - Tenancy website

Find housing providers - Family Services Directory


Supported living

Supported Living and Community Residential Support Services support disabled people to live independently in a safe and appropriate environment. Find out about each of these options and how they can be tailored to the level of support you need.

Supported Living and Community Residential Support Services are housing and living options that provide for different levels of independence.

A support worker can assist with tasks such as:

  • using community facilities
  • shopping
  • budgeting
  • cooking
  • dealing with agencies like Work and Income or the bank.

To access Supported Living, you need to talk to a Needs Assessment and Service Coordination (NASC) organisation. If you're eligible for support, you'll be provided with options for suppliers of services you need.

If you're interested in this service find a needs assessment service near you:

Community Residential Support Services are offered by Ministry-contracted providers to enable disabled people to live in a home-like setting within their community while receiving support for up to 24 hours a day. Staff are on hand in the homes to support people with all aspects of their daily lives.

The options available depend on:

  • each person’s situation
  • where they want to live
  • what is available in that region.
  • services are provided in a range of community settings such as small or large homes, groups of small homes or flats.

If you're interested in this service find a needs assessment service near you here

Choice in Community Living offers disabled people more control over where you live, who you live with and how you are supported. It is an alternative to residential services and is for people with significant disabilities.

With Choice in Community Living:

  • you can decide where to live and who you live with
  • you and your family/whānau choose the support you want
  • you and your family/whānau or advocate work out a budget and how to use your disability funding
  • you will have your own key
  • In terms of where and how you live, you can:
  • own your own home
  • pay rent to a landlord
  • choose to have flat mates or live on your own.

Choice in Community Living is currently available in Auckland, Waikato, the Hutt, Otago and Southland regions only.

To access Choice in Community Living you must be:

  • living in one of the regions listed above, and
  • already be eligible for disability support services funded by Whaikaha - Ministry of Disabled People.

One of the following situations must also apply:

  • you live in a residential service and want to leave and live independently in a home you can purchase or rent.
  • you live in your parent's or family home with disability support needs similar to people in residential services and want to live independently in a home you can purchase or rent.
  • you live in an unsustainable living arrangement with disability support needs that would require a referral to a residential service, which is not what you or your family wants.

If you would like to explore the option of Choice in Community Living, contact your local needs assessment service. They have experienced staff who can work with you and your family/whānau. They will discuss with you whether Choice in Community Living would be a good alternative to residential services.

They can also provide advice on what funding is available to financially support you.

Find out more


Emergency housing

If you have nowhere to stay tonight or in the next 7 days, Work and Income  may be able to pay for you to stay in emergency housing.

When you apply, they will ask you about other housing options you might have, including:

  • staying with family or friends
  • accommodation options you can afford
  • help if you're behind in your rent
  • help if you need bond and rent for a new property
  • help with moving and travel costs to shift to another suitable place
  • negotiating with landlords.


They will look at other housing options first, before they pay for emergency housing.

If you qualify for emergency housing, you could stay in places like a boarding house, backpackers, or motel. It depends on your situation and what's available.

Find out more.

Transitional Housing

The Ministry of Social Development has contracts with transitional housing providers around the country to provide places for clients to stay for up to 12 weeks, while they look for more stable longer-term accommodation.

There are all sorts of reasons people might need transitional housing. Their rental property might have been sold, or they might have been staying with family but circumstances have changed and that’s no longer possible.  

People using the transitional housing service are helped to find longer-term housing. In most cases, once they have secured a longer-term home, service providers also help them access other support, including Work and Income services, budgeting advice and health services.

People living in transitional housing pay rent of up to 25per cent of their income, in line with income-related rents for public housing and Emergency Housing Special Needs Grants (EHSNG). The rest of the costs are paid by Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga - Ministry of Housing and Urban Development(HUD).

Approved social service providers manage transitional housing and are responsible for making sure the properties are warm, dry and well-maintained.  


Find out more here

Access modification

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House Modification Funding is a payment which helps someone pay for changes to their home because they or their child have a disability.

Who can get it

You can only get House Modification Funding if you are assessed as needing the house modification. Whaikaha - Ministry for Disabled People makes this decision.

How much you can get depends on:

  • the cost of the house modification
  • your living costs and expenses
  • how much you and your spouse or partner earn
  • any money or assets you and your spouse or partner have.

To find out more about assessment for housing modifications visit Enable New Zealand

Housing rights

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Whether purchasing a home or renting there are certain rights that everyone has to protect them. Some disabled people may be more vulnerable to having their rights breached so it is important that we all learn how to protect ourselves.


When renting:

The Residential Tenancy Act 1986 provides protections which apply to:

  • A tenancy – in other words, when you’re renting a place.
  • For residential purposes – that is, it’s your home, it’s not for a business.

The protections in the Residential Tenancies Act cover you unless your case comes under one of the specific exceptions that the Act sets out. We’ve summarised the main ones here.

 The protections in this Act don’t cover you if you’re living with the:

  • owner of the house or flat, as a flatmate or boarder, or
  • tenant of the property (that is, the person who signed the tenancy agreement) as one of their flatmates.

You’re also not covered if you’re staying in one of the following kinds of places:

  • a student hostel run by a university, polytechnic or other tertiary education organisation
  • a hotel or motel for temporary or emergency purposes (but stays of four weeks or more in boarding houses are covered. See below, “Boarders and boarding houses: When you’re covered”)
  • a retirement village
  • a rest home, a hospital or any other place that cares for sick, disabled or older people

You can find out more about your rights and protections under the Act by visiting Community Law


When buying:

Purchasing a home of your own is exciting but it can also be quite stressful, particularly if issues arise with the seller or the real estate agent.  It is important to know what your rights are so you are able to deal with any issues and have a happy outcome.

Consumer Protection provides some very helpful information:

Contact the Disability Information Centre in the area for information on local options.