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War Economy

Assistance with Housing

Assistance with Housing

Housing for ex-servicemen was one of the major rehabilitation problems. Loans were granted for building or purchasing dwellings, and there was a preferential allocation of state houses. At least 50 per cent of state houses becoming available were allocated to ex-servicemen.

By March 1948, 8200 state rental houses and flats had been made available, but there were then over 14,000 applications still outstanding. However, by 1957, when over 18,000 preferential allocations had been made to ex-servicemen, their housing requirements had been almost completely filled. The 50 per cent preferential quota had been abolished in 1956, leaving special arrangements to be made for any exceptional cases which remained.

The Servicemen's Settlement and Land Sales Act attempted to stabilise the prices for dwellings as well as for farms, by providing that there should be a basic value, based on 1942 values, which might be increased or decreased to arrive at a fair value. Fair values were determined by the Land Sales Courts.

For houses, as for farms, the law that no sale should be made at a price in excess of the fair value applied to all sales, not just those to ex-servicemen.

Here also, the law was generally effective in holding down prices, though it tended to reduce the number of sales. There was a fair page 518 amount of evasion, probably more than in the case of farms. A provincial daily reported in March 1945:1

‘Allegations that returned servicemen, purchasing properties in Taranaki, paid special prices for such extras as clothes lines, fowl houses and concrete paths, have been commented on by the Minister of Rehabilitation, the Hon. C. F. Skinner, who has strongly condemned the circumvention of house values fixed by Land Sales Committees. It was alleged in Hawera recently, as an example, that in the sale of one property £300 was paid by a civilian purchaser for the front door mat as consideration above the price fixed by the Taranaki Committee.

‘The Minister went on to say that by Section 14 of the Land Laws Amendment Act 1944 “It is an offence to offer or make any illegal payment or arrangement or to try to persuade anyone else to do so either before or after the hearing of the application. The wording is wide enough to include agents as well as principals, vendors as well as purchasers, and lessors as well as lessees.”’

Control of land sales, including farm land, was lifted in 1950.

As well as over 18,000 preferential allocations of state houses, 64,000 housing loans were authorised for ex-servicemen, and a similar number of furniture loans of up to £100.2

1 Hawera Star, 12 March 1945.

2 These figures are up to 31 March 1963.