Good tenants are being forced to leave their homes this Christmas and move into anonymous motels because Housing NSW won’t act to control bad neighbours.
Mrs T left her unit this morning and is now living in a cheap motel. “I couldn’t afford to stay in a motel in my own neighbourhood with my friends” said Mrs T, “It’s going to be a very lonely Christmas for me”.
Mrs T’s neighbours have a long history of anti-social behaviour but their violence has increased since school holidays started.
“They start drinking early in the morning, and they get more and more rowdy as the day goes on. The noise and partying go on all day and all night. I can’t walk out my front door without being spat at, I can’t have visitors over and I can’t even hang my washing on the line without them throwing dog faeces at it. I don’t know what else to do. I have reported them to my local Housing office but they don’t do anything. It’s been 18 months now and they haven’t done a thing.”
All leases ensure a tenant’s “right to quiet enjoyment” of their property. Housing NSW have several options available to them to control bad neighbours including Acceptable Behaviour Agreements; Specific Performance Orders and if all else fails, Tenancy Tribunal.
“I have made report after report” says Mrs T, “I’ve taken photographs of the damage done to my property and my car, but still they do nothing.”
Fearing for her safety, Mrs T has been forced to move out of her home and having nowhere else to go, is spending her savings paying for a motel. When her savings run out she will be homeless.
“I hope the Premier and the Minister have a nice Christmas dinner, surrounded by their friends and family. I hope they will spare a thought for me because due directly to their inaction, I will be alone and a long long way from my home. I have a kettle and a toaster in my motel room so my Christmas dinner will be tea and toast.”
Mrs T joins a long list of good tenants who bear the burden of Housing NSW’s failure to uphold their own policies. Perfectly good homes remain empty because bad neighbours make it impossible to live in “peace and quiet enjoyment”.
The 80/20 rule applies here. 80% of Housing tenants are good, clean living, quiet and respectful.
20% are not and those 20% create 80% of the problems.
It used to be that only 2% of tenants were bad, but that figure has been allowed to grow through indifference by those at the very top of HNSW. They spend months making the policy and printing the glossy brochures but do nothing to enforce the rules on the ground, leaving those at the coalface to cope without support.
Housing’s continual failure to address these problems is endemic through every region and every local Housing office.
An Illawarra lady has been living on her daughter’s lounge for over a year because two bad neighbours on her estate prevent her from going home. She has been on the “Priority Transfer” list for 8 months but has never been contacted by Housing staff and has not been offered an alternative home.
A Maroubra gentleman, who has recently undergone surgery, begged the hospital to allow him to stay over Christmas because he knows he will not get the peace he requires to recover if he returns to his home. “I’ve spent 10 years making my house into a home and now, when I need the sanctuary of my garden, I can’t enjoy it. The ratbags have ruined it completely."
Housing’s failure to tackle the issue has a devastating knock-on effect to all the other social services like the Health Dept, DoCS and the Police. Most anti-social behaviour and noise complaints are not criminal activity, and yet the Police are the ones left to clean up the mess.
There are thousands of families on the waiting list who would be grateful for a home over Christmas; who would happily abide by the Housing NSW Good Neighbour Policy; who would love to be able to put down roots and build a thriving community.
If only HNSW would act on their own policies, then maybe we can reduce the 20% back to 2%.
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