RLC in the Media: 'Elderly resident Sally Parslow's last-ditch fight to stay in Millers Point​'

With the help of Redfern Legal Centre, Millers Point resident Sally Parslow is filing in the NSW Supreme Court to try to prevent eviction from her home.​

By Lisa Visentin. Published by Sydney Morning Herald, 15 April 2017.​

When Sally Parslow moved into Millers Point in the mid-1970s, the area was home to many single, retired wharfies who lived in boarding homes owned by the Maritime Services Board.

In a terrace in Lower Fort Street, she and her young daughter lived with elderly gentlemen with names like "Jocky" and "Bluey", who had spent their lives working at the nearby docks.

In the 40 years since, Ms Parslow has turned the rundown 19th century boarding house into a home. She raised her daughter there, invested her personal savings into preserving its heritage value and paid the maintenance bills.

"The place was in extreme disrepair when I moved in. I have put my life into caring for this property and I thought I'd die here," Ms Parslow said.

"The understanding was that I would be there for my whole life."

This "understanding" is now at the heart of Ms Parslow last-ditch court battle to stay in her home after the NSW government's Land and Housing Corporation issued its final eviction notice last month.

In the three years since the government announced the sell-off of social housing in Millers Point, the Fort Street homes that once housed her neighbours have gone under the hammer, fetching between $2.5 million and $6 million.

Ms Parslow is one of three tenants remaining on the street and the state government is eager to see her house sold while the market is roaring.

On Wednesday, lawyers from Redfern Legal Centre will apply for an injunction in the NSW Supreme Court, hours before the Land and Housing Corporation will seek orders to evict her in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

If granted, the injunction would buy Ms Parslow's lawyers time to mount a case before the court that she has a claim to equitable life tenancy over the home.

Central to her claim is the mutual understanding she believed she reached with the Maritime Services Board in the 1980s, before ownership of the house was transferred to the Housing Corporation.

"It was the understanding of all the people who lived in the community at the time," Ms Parslow said. "I can't believe they are trying to evict me."

While her claim is grounded in the notoriously complex juncture of equity and property ownership rights, her lawyers are confident she has a legal right to remain in the home.

"Sally does have a very particular situation where this claim is open to her. Not all of the tenants in Millers Point have that kind of claim. It is a very particular claim," solicitor Melanie Bradfield said.

If the injunction bid is rejected by the court, however, her tenancy agreement will almost certainly be terminated in the tribunal later that day.

To date, the sale of 136 government properties in Millers Point has injected $340 million into the state's coffers, which will be used to fund 1500 new social housing dwellings across the state.

But critics of the policy say a community has been destroyed in the process, and it has pitted social housing tenants against one another as the waiting list for housing balloons beyond 65,000 people.

The Millers Point social housing community has been whittled down to about 40 residents.

Ms Parslow has turned down the government's offers to find her another home, believing she has a legal right to stay.

"It's a very stressful situation for myself and everyone who is trying to maintain our right to live there," Ms Parslow said.

"I think that at my age, I have to be optimistic that there is some hope in our situation."

The story 'Elderly resident Sally Parslow's last-ditch fight to stay in Millers Point​' first appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald on 15 April 2017.