Friday, September 18, 2015

Government's 'antisocial housing' bill amended and passed

The Residential Tenancies and Housing Legislation Amendment (Public Housing - Antisocial Behaviour) Bill 2015 has finally made it's way through the NSW Legislative Assembly. The debate was long, with many MPs speaking about their experience and understanding of antisocial behaviour within social housing communities before putting it to the vote. You can find what your local MP had to say by scrolling through the hansard documents - but be warned, this stretches out to about 80 pages of reading material.


Both the Government and the Opposition tabled some amendments to the legislation - the Government's amendments were agreed to as it passed through the Legislative Assembly; the Opposition will have to rely on the support of the Greens, the Shooters and Fishers, the Animal Justice Party and the Christian Democrats in the Legislative Council. We've had a quick look at the amendments and they're a bit of a mixed bag.

In a nutshell, the Government's amendments will: return discretion to the Tribunal on making termination orders, but only in a very narrow set of circumstances; give tenants a little bit longer to respond to or appeal a "strike notice"; and clarify that an anonymous "neighbourhood impact statement" may only be used to establish the impact of a tenant's breach on neighbours, not whether a breached has occurred.

The Opposition's amendments will: go further on returning discretion to the Tribunal in cases where it needs it to avoid unjust outcomes; give tenants a little bit longer still to respond to or appeal a "strike notice", and clarify that the timeframe for response or appeal is a minimum, not a maximum; allow tenants to make submissions about the details outlined in a strike notice in the Tribunal if circumstances warrant it; ensure tenants are entitled to see a copy of an anonymous "neighbourhood impact statement" if used in the Tribunal; and ensure that not all termination orders relating to social housing tenancies will require vacant possession to be returned within 28 days, but only those to which the bill relates.

We'll consider the amendments in more detail in a later post. Either way the final legislation will be changed in some form or another from its original form. That, of course, is a very good thing. But we're still not convinced this legislation is the right way to tackle antisocial behaviour in communities where social housing tenants live.


4 comments:

  1. I was against this Bill until 2 weeks ago my neighbour (I am in social housing) was bashing up his girlfriend at 4pm in the afternoon out the front on the nature strip. I did call the police. I am thinking why is this mans rights paramount to the rights of the rest of us who chose to live peacefully? What are the children around here supposed to think about a person like that? I have escaped domestic violence and my anxiety disorder has been triggered by witnessing this violence. I am now for the Bill.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment Kamini. What an awful thing to have gone through, please take care - are you in touch with support services?

      Current laws could be applied to the situation you've outlined, and a remedy obtained. But what if it is the girlfriend who is the tenant in a situation like this, and not the violent boyfriend? Her tenancy would be at risk under the proposed changes.

      Regards,
      Ned.

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  2. Good point- the girlfriend is not supposed to be here- I do find myself wondering why this woman is now back with him, but- that's Domestic Violence isn't it?
    I am in therapy, work part time etc
    What if this Bill actually works?
    Again, there are children in this complex being exposed to violence when obviously, by the time we all get a place in social housing, we have already been through enough
    I can have compassion for the violent neighbour - obviously- he has some issues going on there, but the children are defenceless and he is a woman basher
    Our community housing provider is a 'white ribbon' organisation LMAO

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  3. i can see the Legislation being a problem for people who are incapable of helping themselves or accessing help to get better - is this kind of hard core Bill the only language some people understand? Personally, I think that NCAT is hopeless regardless of legislation

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