Briefing Paper: Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing—Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015

This briefing paper outlines the impact the proposed Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing – Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015 is likely to have on the community’s most vulnerable tenants.

In summary, the Bill will:

  • Require mandatory termination of a tenancy if a tenant or occupant engages in certain criminal activity.
  • Introduce a 'three strikes' policy for alleged breaches of the tenancy, with conclusive presumptions of breach in proceedings for termination at the Tribunal.
  • Allow anonymous evidence from neighbours in terminations proceedings at the Tribunal.
  • Allow conclusive evidence certificates of costs of work undertaken by the social housing landlord.

It is our position that this Bill will have the effect of undermining the rule of law for the most vulnerable social housing tenants. In particular, it will have a disproportionate impact on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, domestic violence victims, elderly tenants and those with intellectual disability.

Further, it is our view that the law in its current form strikes the right balance between controlling criminal activity in social housing and sustaining the tenancies of vulnerable tenants, and any changes to the law will result in harsh and unjust outcomes.

We make the following recommendations:

  • That the Tribunal’s discretion to take into account the tenant’s personal circumstances when deciding whether to make a termination order be retained.
  • That the provisions relating to evidentiary certificates for strike notices be removed from the Bill.
  • That the neighbours impact statement provision be removed from the Bill.
  • That a formal review process prior to the issuing of a notice of termination be provided for in the Bill.
  • That tenants be provided with 28 days to make submission on a proposed strike notice and 28 days to seek review of a strike notice.

Published by Redfern Legal Centre, Marrickville Legal Centre, Kingsford Legal Centre, Illawarra Legal Centre and Eastern Area Tenants Service.