The Minister for Housing today discussed introducing a ‘three strikes and your out’ policy for public housing tenants. Read the media article here. Is this a good idea?
The Minister’s comments, suggesting greater support for public housing tenants, are welcomed. However, it’s hard not to be cynical about what the change might really mean in the face of cutting funds to every tenant advocate in the state, including those engaged in housing policy and law reform. Who will be at the table to ensure the changes really are targeted at the ‘worst of the worst’ as the Minister says? And who will help tenants to defend claims they think are unreasonable?
It’s not only people who rent who disturb the community but it’s only renters who face the jeopardy of eviction as well as criminal or civil sanctions for failing to meet community standards. Tenancy law is not a good instrument to deal with behaviour related issues in our communities.
And is it not discriminatory that some people, based on whether they rent or own, can be thrown out for what is seen as bad behaviour whilst other’s can’t? Does it not just reinforce the idea that tenants are second class citizens? If there are concerns with particular behaviours, a means of addressing those behaviours across tenure groups is a more effective response.
But despite any argument about equity, tenants can already be evicted from their home if they engage in what is termed objectionable behaviour, as long as the allegations can be proven. This is a current feature of Queensland tenancy laws, meaning the changes suggested by the Minister are not required to achieve his desired outcome.
And, whilst it is a good idea, what are the measures going to be to ensure people don’t drift into homelessness? The devil is likely to be in the detail.
See what you think.