More changes for Qld public housing tenants

Media statement from Housing Mininster Mander 3-12-13

No more gap year for public tenants

The Newman Government has moved to tighten up generous public housing rules that left properties vacant for up to a year while tenants took extended holidays or served prison terms.

Housing Minister Tim Mander said under Labor’s old rules, tenants could take getaways of up to 12 months without putting their tenancies at risk.

“These houses are there to house the most vulnerable members of society. They’re no good to anyone sitting there empty,” Mr Mander said.

“This Government promised to revitalise frontline services, something that’s particularly important when we’re dealing with families on low or modest incomes. Continue reading

Why govt reasons for withdrawing tenant advice funding are wrong

HANDS OFF poster 01-01The State government has responded to questions about the withdrawal of tenancy advice funding in a variety of ways since last year.  The following outlines why these responses fail to negate the need to have independent tenant advice services in Queensland.

It’s a good program but we can’t afford it
  • $45M in interest was generated on tenants bonds last financial year while they were held in trust by the government authority – the program is not a drain on taxpayers, it is self-funded.
  • The entire statewide program of tenancy advice could be run at the level it was prior to funding withdrawal on less than 15% of the interest generated last year, i.e. less than $7M per year.
  • Increased numbers of people are entering and remaining in the private rental sector for longer periods of time.  The value of tenant bonds, and the interest generated, is increasing every year.  As a community, we are better able, not less able, to support an independent tenancy advice service with this interest.
  • Withdrawing support for tenants to understand their rights and responsibilities is likely to cost the government in the long run as people will fall out of the private rental sector  and increase demand for social housing and homelessness services
It’s a duplication of what the Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) does
  • The role of the RTA requires them to be impartial, they do not give advice or advocate for any party to a tenancy agreement.
  • The average call to the RTA information service takes less than 5 minutes.  The average call to a tenant advice service is 54 minutes because they go into the specific details of the client’s situation and provide advice not simply information.
  • Tenant advice services will increase the level of support and see clients face to face when required.  Staff at the RTA are unable to do this.  In the last year of state funding, tenant advice services provided 24,000 hours of representation for Queensland tenants to their landlords, real estate agents or in the tenancy tribunal.  The RTA do not do this.
  • The Qld Commission of Audit said the government shouldn’t provide a service unless there is no other efficient alternative.  The decision to expand a centralised government service at the expense of outsourced community-based services contradicts this.
  • The government said it would retain front line services.  Tenant advice services are front line services – they are available in local communities across the state rather than the central Brisbane location of the government authority.
Community Legal Centres (CLCs) can pick up any unmet need when tenant advice services are no longer available
  • There is a lot of research about the overwhelming demand for CLC services both in Queensland and nationally, they simply do not have the capacity to meet the needs of a new client group. Continue reading

Debunking the duplication argument

The Housing Minister, Minister Mander, says that tenant advice services duplicate the role of the government’s Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA).  But did you know that in the last year of state government funding the services spent 24,000 hours representing the interests of individual Queensland tenants to their landlords, real estate agents or in the tenancy tribunal?

Hands on front line work delivered in local communities across the state.  Something that the impartial, Brisbane CBD based RTA does not and cannot do! Does that sound like duplication to you?

Where will those Queenslanders go for help after December 31?

Why keeping services for tenants open is important – a radio interview!

Belinda Sanders

ABC Southern Qld – Mornings with Belinda Sanders

In an interview with ABC local radio Southern Queensland the Tenants’ Union puts a strong argument about why tenants need and deserve access to independent advice services. We found this audio link on the TUQ website with the following correction:

“When Penny said there were 57 hours of advocacy in the last full year of funding, she meant to say 24,000 hours“.