Monday, August 17, 2015

The wedding that stopped a suburb...

The Brown Couch joins the growing list of Sydney's finest tabloids in congratulating Salim and Aysha Mehajer on their recent nuptials. From all accounts, it was a cracker of a party.

Congratulations, Salim and Aysha.

Not only did they draw a significant crowd on their special day, they seem to have captured quite a bit of attention on the social pages as well. Unfortunately, not everybody saw the happy event for what it was. In fact, one social commentator within the broad circle of your correspondent's acquaintance was heard to say something akin to "I was almost ready to believe this was an ad for another season of [Paul Fenech's TV trash-masterpiece] Housos". Oh, touché!

But the link is not as tenuous as it might at first appear. Indeed, the sort of cavorting and carrying on that seems to have been the hallmark of the Mehajer wedding - with reports the event included closing off an entire street and threatening to tow neighbours' cars if they were parked in the way - is just the kind of thing many 'Housos' would simply love to be able to do. But of course, they can't, because of a general prohibition on tenants engaging in the kind of behaviour that would interfere with the peace, comfort and privacy of their neighbours (at section 51 of the Residential Tenancies Act); along with the specific provision that requires extra scrutiny of social housing tenants, to ensure their tenancy has no serious adverse effects on the neighbourhood (at section 152).

But evidently, Salim and Aysha are not Housos. With the kind of wealth on show at their wedding on the weekend, they'd be hard pressed to meet the eligibility criteria on income alone. So they're far more likely to get away with the occasional street party indulgence without it costing them the right to remain in their home - which is something we've discussed before.

Social housing tenants, on the other hand, are not so lucky. They are about to be subject to even further restrictions on their ability to annoy their neighbours, with the introduction of 'strike notices' a key feature of the Residential Tenancies and Housing Amendment (Public Housing - Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015 that is currently before the NSW Parliament. Strike notices will allow social housing landlords to end tenancies because of behaviour that is actually not so bad as to justify the termination of a social housing tenancy agreement. Annoy your neighbours three times in a year, and you're gone.

The moral of this story is that street parties can be fun, but clearly they're not for everyone.

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