Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Good tenants forced to vacate for Christmas

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%.

Do you have a similar story?


  1. I am also moving out this week and will have to stay away until the New Year. We had a beautiful, quiet, lovely little community of 8 elderly and single people and then Housing shoved a nightmare single mother with two horrible children into the middle of our estate.
    Whatever happened to their "creating harmonious communities" policy?
    They DESTROYED our community - and they KNEW what they were doing.
    We BEGGED them not to put children in here. We had several people waiting for a transfer who would have been perfect for our community, but Housing ignored all our pleading and callously created a ghetto.
    Two of our elderly are too afraid to leave their homes and our gay neighbour is bullied every day. Not Good Enough Minister!!

  2. I reckon if Housing dealt with just half the bad tenants out there, they would be able to drop thousands of good tenants off the transfer/ swap list.
    Most of the tenants I talk to wouldn't move if they had a choice - but like the people in the story, they are being driven out by the 20%ers.

    Does anyone know how we can find out the real statistics on how many people are on the transfer list and how long they have been waiting? Housing sure as hell won't tell us the truth!

  3. My heart goes out to Mrs T and the other tenants who will have such a horrible lonely Christmas.

    I thank God for my wonderful neighbours, we all very friendly and have bbqs and look out for one another. On Christmas Day we close off our cul-de-sac and let the grandkids play cricket with the oldies.

    It's wonderful to live amongst such great people and I pray every day that this balance will not be upset by Housing allocating a troublemaker into our group.

    1. Amen to that! You are a very lucky lady!! :)

  4. hey there! I know how this lady feels, but all hope is NOT lost!!
    our "problem" neighbor is going to be OUT soon, not becuase of housing NSW but because the police are forcing them to move him,
    Ive noticed that part of the problem is that most of the 20% that cause the problems are under the mental health act and CANT be kicked out, all they can do is move them! which makes it hard on both us AND department of housing!

  5. I really feel for this lady, what a horrible way to live!! she needs to go see her local member asap and get them to either sort it out or force housing to sort it out, no one should have to live like that. i thought that under a lease contract no matter who the lease is through private, real estate or housing that a nusance tentant would be immediately be told to leave?

  6. I live in HC and my neighbour is quiet. But (there's always a but) I have a friend who rents privately, next to a HC home. She has neighbours from hell. She has been to the police, the local member, and has numerous mediation sessions with the department, all to no avail. Does she have to wait until they all end up in prison to get some peace?

    I was over the moon when I was rescued from my dire situation and got my little unit, some people are so ungrateful.

  7. I know how people feel with the Dept of Housing.The whole system is wrong.Every six months you get a new Client Service Officer and most of them are new in the Dept and have no idea what to do with complaints. They go into the Too Hard Basket.If they go to the Anti Social Officer he/she has a bigger Too Hard Basket.
    I am taking the Dept to the Tribunal for not looking after the welfare and welbeing of the residents of our block of apartments.We live in a block of eight with one nutter that just makes life unbearable for the other residents.This has been going on now for four years and we just keep being told that they can't do any more than talk to her.We decorate our building for Christmas and this year the nutter has pulled the decorations down on the first floor. This is the last straw and taking the Dept to the Tribunal seems the only alternative left to the tennants.
    Maybe a letter to the Opposition Leader who will be the next Premier of NSW stating how wrong the system is would not go astray.

  8. I am forced to have a portable shower outside in my backyard, because the housing commision is ripping out my bathroom after 6 months of me asking them to come and fix a water burst which left a hole in my shower floor.. the water damaged the whole bathroom floor, and woodrotted the chipping board under the house..they are making me and my to very young children shower outside in a portable shower(LOO lookalike) for 3 weeks.

  9. Mrs T so sorry you have had this to deal with. You should take them to the CTT, on this site there is information on a tentant that sued the department for not taking action against disruptive neighbours. All housing tenants should take action at the CCT this way housing or should I say the minister might enforce thier polices. I myself had a neighbour who tried to get into my home one evening, he threated and intimidated me the whole time while I lived in this property, 6 weeks after he tried to get into my property I became aware he was a sex offender. Housing did nothing to move me,the police where just as bad not serving a AVO on this man,the severity of a crime he comitted in front of me should of had me protected and rehomed immediately. I was placed on priorty transfer, after a year I had to get a lawyer to phone the regional manager, I was rehoused about 3months after the lawyer phoneing. If I knew at the time could of taken them to the CTT, I would of sued housing as ths impacted on my life greatly, he also was under mental health and this gave him ample excuses with housing and the courts to avaide prosecution. His crimes got the attention of the media and became Australia wide news. The mental health excuse wasn't sufficent anymore and he was dealt with by the courts finally...... SO if you take action where it hurts them most in the hip pocket using the CTT they might start to apply their policies. The goverment needs to hire social workers to run the offices of social housing, people with social understandings that can strategize to make social housing work. Dept Housing are housing a vast array of disadvantage people with different complexities and social workers should be combating our housing problems. Not hire people who are admin workers, ill equipt and with no empathy to deal with social issues eg socioeconomically disadvantaged, mental health, ect ect...

  10. I too am having problems. my immediate neighbour has threatened my life and the police office who attended me told me that it was a ploy to get a transfer quicker. Housing does nothing except ask you to write letter after letter after letter. I have also sent those letters to the minister and am waiting for a response. I am tired of living in fear also. It should be mandatory of houings property managers to live in the complex they are managing (now that ould be an eye opener for them) I am scared, tired and my joy in living where I do has been taken away. Sueing DOH sounds like the way to go, I shall take the time and contact the tenants union and seek legal advice

  11. In regards to going to your local member....when I used to live in hell in public housing, the local member was busy securing public housing for his mother....guess how effective that was....his mother got a pretty little place which she sometimes wonders into, oh, and it is a safe block, too... (Sometimes can't believe how much I have changed as a human being since going into public housing 10 years ago.)

  12. Firstly, it is very important to keep a diary of incidents: the time, date, describe the incident in details, did you call the police - what happened etc., witnesses to the incident.
    If you are threatened et a copy of any statements made to the police and go to your local court and take out a Stalking Intervention Order against the person: for example they are not to come close to you by 10-50 metres. Continue to write to your housing office and always request a reply in writing. Phone calls from the office are not really useful as it is their word against yours. Keep a copy of all correspondence between yourself and the DHS. If you phone make a note of the time, date and who you spoke to and the subject. if you attend a meeting at the housing office, make sure you have an independent person along with you. It is important to keep the pressure on the housing office.
    Finally, issue the DHS with a Notice of Breach of Duty - Section 67 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 (the Landlord (DHS) 'has not allowed you quiet enjoyment of the property'. Give them 14 days to respond. If they do not respond in a manner that satisfies you, apply to the Tribunal for a hearing. Good luck. I did all of the above for 18 months, and finally the neighbour was re allocated

  13. houso r run by a bunch of donkeys these day. i am a fully able healthy lady about to have another baby with a 3 year old son already. houso recently moved me into a 2 bedroom fully modified wheelchair accesable house. i dont even have a bath tub to bath my son. i was on the waiting list for a transfer for over 3 years for a house close to my family. but yet they moved me even father away and into a house that should have gone to a needy disabled person. how many disabled people out there r waiting for a suitable house for them, but r being told by houso that there r no modified houses for them. well u know why that is, because the donkeys r giving the fully modified wheelchair accesable houses to perfectly healthy people like me. thats why and the disabled people r made to keep living in misery. what do people think of that?

  14. Big thank you to February 4 person who gave details on how to go about things in a systematic way...very helpful.

  15. I have to say that we have a responsibility to be nice to our neighbors, even if they are a pain in the bum. On one side I have the loveliest neighbors and she has 5 kids and they are all great, but on the other side I have a drug attic couple that steal my stuff and my kittens. ( but they did bring the kittens back because I was nice about it ) People say to me ring the police and get your stuff back but I don't because I want peace and quiet. And if that's what it takes I shut up. You probably think that I'm a push over type person, well you are wrong I pick my battles I know when I can have a go and I know when to be diplomatic.
    And I have learnt the hard way. I have lived in normal type housing and now in public housing and I will be honest its been better and more peaceful here in the last 6 years than in the other, because I was determined to make it work I knew that I was coming into an area that I had to bite my tongue, I didn't have choice, I'm here for life. Neighbors are like a marriage you have to work at it. Be nice to everybody and after awhile they will be nice back.

  16. As a CSO in Housing I do agree with a lot of the comments regarding the Nuisance and Annoyance issues that many Tenants are facing.

    However I do need to point out a few things:

    1. Housing Staff are not Police Officers and policing personal behaviour is not part of our job role.

    2. We can only act as long as we have a complete story (Both Sides, Witnesses etc) without it all we can do is make a note of it.

    3. Hoarding & Squalor Issues take years to resolve with the aid of Internal and External Agencies and their waiting lists are as long as ours.

    4. Each CSO can have up 750 plus tenancies to manage and most work 45 hours plus a week just to stay barely even with business as usual workload, then add the Nuisance & Annoyance, Property Care, Arrears, Maintenance Requests, Client Service Visits, Ministerial’s, Briefing Notes, File Note’s, Team Meetings etc.

    So all I ask is that you the tenants remember that we are human not machines we do care and work extremely hard to provide a satisfactory outcome for their tenants and we do so without a thank you.

    Next time your CSO gets something done for you, a little courtesy would not go a stray.

    10 years in the business and I have been thanked 5 times…. Each time I received those thanks I cried. To this day I remember the name, date & address of the tenant who thanked me.

    Remember, because I do.

  17. Hi CSO,
    I'm glad someone at Housing is reading our opinions. It'd be nice if someone at the top was actually LISTENING!

    I've been in Housing 4 years now, and I am grateful for my home and feel privileged to be here. I have spoken to the staff at my local Housing office on the phone - and it often takes ten phone calls to get a simple problem solved. I have not seen my own CSO in the whole 4 years.

    I disagree with your point 1) that you are not tasked to "police personal behaviour" - just like Real Estate Agents and landlords in the private market - it is indeed part of your role to MANAGE your tenancies.

    Tenants must abide by a code of conduct and it is Housing's job to uphold and enforce it.
    When you fail to do so, the system spirals into degradation.

    I agree you have a hard job - undoubtedly made a whole lot harder because of the attitudes in your workplace. If your bosses are giving you too much responsibility and not enough support then the system needs an overhaul.

    Unfortunately, it is the CUSTOMER who suffers when your department is inefficient.

    I work as a checkout chick, same 45 hours p/w but half your wage!
    I often get a thank you - almost every customer - because I treat them in the same manner I expect to be treated. I answer their questions and I solve their problems.

    If I don't serve my customers in a polite, respectful, timely manner, not only will they get agitated and cranky, I would probably get the sack!

    I thank you for your time and for expressing your side of the story and perhaps if more people listened and learned, we could close the gap between THEM and US.

  18. I am a property Manager. I have been complaining for 2 years to DOH about tenants children who constantly kick in fences and access my tenants yard (private rental) They steal the toys and break them. Finaly after we have fixed the fence many times, DOH sends us a letter to say that they are putting a colourbond fence up and we have to go halves. WHOA Up the DOH! No we don't YOU have to pay, check out Fencing Act. OOPS DOH concede that they have to pay and tell me that it has been approved. Then we have more trouble with tenants. I snap and go over our local DOH's head. I have sent her step by step instructions on how to breach, under what part of the tenancy act she breach with. Nope, no action from DOH. The next thing I know the Big Kahuna from DOH turns up. She cites that they have "policy" and unless we can prove with cold hard evidence that the kids did it, then there is nothing they can do. USELESS DOH!!!! I would have kicked my tenants out by now. But, the new fence is going up. (yes and all phone calls I have made to DOH where never recorded, therefore, does not exist) Then I find out that DOH goes to the property and looks at the fence and is NOT replacing it, just fixing a few pailings that have been broken by the kids again. LIARS DOH you are LIARS and DO NOT CARE. DO YOUR JOB YOU LAZY BEEEEEEEEPS!!! As a property manager, if I did this I would lose my job. The DOH staff are just as bad as the tenants.

  19. Client Service Officers are indeed policing behaviour. The ASB - Anti Social Behaviour - CSO position is the later created position for such a person and is alive and kicking is Social Housing NSW.

  20. I am looking at leaving my property due to the same reasons, i have 2 kids and a neighbor thats making false reports, threatening me and my children whenever we go outside, my daughter cant cope with the violence, and housings response is that i CANT get a transfer because the neighbor has put in a complaint against ME!! now, in the time that i have lived here she has whinged and bitched about all the complaints made about her.... this complaint is my only 1... cant the look at her records and see shes a trouble maker?? obviously that would take effort :O :O shock horror as if they would do that!!
    So my only option is for me and my 2 kids to go and live with a friend and her 2 kids in a 2 bedroom unit :/

  21. I have been with the doh for just over 31 yrs now & 1 exchange-due to my heath deteriating my dr's have written letters to doh for me to be moved to a warmer climate for my health-4yrs on & still nothing,then office doesn't even bother to return my calls-i'm so over it-i'm on a disibilty pension & cannot afford private rent-if i could i would have been out of here years ago-so looks like i'll be in a wheel chair before they decide to help-does anyone know of who i could contact to get HELP Thanx Deb

  22. I had bad neighbors in one town whom harassed me for ten years and housing wouldn't help, I had to flee my home with a child, they threw most of my belongings out and sold a few items for next too nothing. The community just turned a blind eye, as usual and government. Now in a new State, the community etc. the same, no one wants to take responsible for there Duty of Care and common courtesy. Government Bodies and the like dont have a heart or honesty in most cases...

  23. I have just resigned from my job as a dept of housing officer. I can't tell you just how bad this job is. The govt has no backbone and should be kicking out tenants who are constantly disruptive. In private they would just get the boot. There are plenty of genuine needy cases who would appreciate what they have. As a housing officer it is incredibly frustrating how weak the dept are with repercussions. It's a joke! I couldn't stand it anymore. The housing offices are understaffed and the staff are constantly threatened by feral clients. They have to enter properties that are beyond disgusting. Nothing is worth how bad this job is. I am taking a pay cut in my new job but couldn't be happier.

  24. Seriously do yourself a favour and rent in the private market if you can. You may get cheap rent but you are subjected to scum on a daily basis. For single mums out there do you really want to know your kids lives are risk. Get a part-time job and dont live in or near public housing, it's not worth it.

  25. Public housing should only be for the elderly and for tpeople with disabilities or who are unwell. Everyone else put there get a job and get your own place!

    1. Public housing was built for the influx of migrants to the country. My parents came to Australia in 1966 to work in the steel works paid their rent annd lived in the home for over forty years. What would you have housing NSW do with all the empty homes if people like my parents had to move out. Get your facts straight first.

    2. I totally agree - understand the history before commenting.

      Back in the 70's, the tenants were able to get jobs, get on their feet and BUY the house they were living in. This gave them the incentive to keep it nice, keep in good with the neighbours, build a community and build better lives for themselves and their children.

      Over the years DoH have just sold off the stock and not replaced it - filled the remaining houses with the poorest and most desperate and sat back and watched the communities self destruct.

      Kindly remeber that only a tiny percentage of tenants are freeloading ferals - the majority are good, law abiding people just trying to get ahead in life.

  26. Making an effective complaint against DHS you need to put it always in writing and keep a DHS stamped copy of every complaint. Keep a diary of events/phone calls/acts of intimidation/names/number plates etc. and get photographic evidence/possibly CCT surveillance if affordable. If police are called include the date/time and crime.
    If they do nothing about bad neighbours, under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, you can serve the Office of Housing with a Breach of Duty Notice (a simply form to fill). You have the right to “quiet enjoyment of your property”.
    Some housing officers will "try" and intimidate you out of making a formal complaint but that's because they are bullies!

  27. Seriously, you can't just go making accusation like this without backing them up with firm, absolute proof. That which is asserted without evidence can be refuted without evidence and you're due a good refute unless you can prove what you claim. fencing adelaide.

  28. It is so sad to read all this hardship that people are made to endure. We have a problem in our neighbourhood and almost everybody is the owner of a little house and we have one unit causing havoc for all of us. Some people simply do not know how to behave. Unfortunately, it appears that nobody really is interested in such suffering even when reported. It leads me to believe that those who do know how to behave will be run over by those who made it a sport tormenting others. Good luck to all of you good people who only seek a quiet enjoyment of their homes that are to provide safety.......


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