The WA Housing Authority should be working to maintain tenancies, not accelerated evictions

Western Australia’s main tenancy authority and the entire WA Tenancy Network of local judicial centers are urging the Western Australian government to halt all further “reasonable” evictions from public housing following a federal court injunction last month.

Last month, Australia’s federal court issued an injunction against an Indigenous council tenant to prevent the termination of his “temporary” council tenancy, based on a racial discrimination complaint filed with Australia’s Human Rights Commission.

Barbara and Elder Abraham obtained an injunction to prevent their family from being evicted from public housing.

Barbara and Elder Abraham obtained an injunction to prevent their family from being evicted from public housing. Recognition:Jess Noakes

This complaint alleges that temporary tenancies and “reasonless” evictions are used in a discriminatory manner against Indigenous tenants owned by the Housing Authority (part of the WA Department of Communities).

The AHRC complaint is based on data confirmed by the Department of Communities showing that temporary leases are disproportionately used against Aboriginal households, who account for 58 percent of all Department-issued temporary leases but only 25 percent of all public ones Residential tenancies in WA.

“Causeless” terminations, whether during a fixed-term lease or at the end of a fixed-term lease, mean that the tenant has no opportunity to contest the termination or argue that it is unjustified.

While non-renewal of fixed-term contracts without reason is fairly commonplace in the private rental market, it often comes as a shock to learn that the housing authority, which provides housing to the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our community, is able to hire a tenant evict without having to prove a violation or justify the eviction in court.

The proposed moratorium would not prevent the housing authority from terminating tenancies where there are compelling reasons to do so. If the housing authority has a basis for requesting termination of a tenancy because of an alleged breach by the tenant, they can take allegations of breach to court and leave a judge to determine whether the termination is warranted in all circumstances.

Since the injunction, the Housing Authority has already enforced another “groundless” eviction against an elderly Aboriginal man who is now homeless. That eviction came last week despite several written requests to the housing authority to confirm they would not go ahead with the eviction in light of the federal court’s injunction, to which no response was received.

On the night of the eviction, he was forced to sleep in a park in Northbridge after the locks on his home were changed with all his belongings still inside. A trespasser pinned to the door informed him that he faced a year in prison if he remained on the premises after his eviction.

https://www.smh.com.au/national/western-australia/wa-housing-authority-should-work-to-sustain-tenancies-not-fast-track-evictions-20221006-p5bnsp.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national The WA Housing Authority should be working to maintain tenancies, not accelerated evictions

Joel McCord

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