Western Australia Minister for Housing and Works Troy Buswell
Update on ineligible tenancies investigation
Victor P Taffa
More than 30 public housing tenants have been evicted in the past five months after being caught exceeding income limits for taxpayer funded accommodation.
Department officials involved in the crackdown on public housing eligibility have so far interviewed 76 tenants and issued 31 notices of eviction to tenants whose income or assets exceeded the allowable limits.
Western Australia Minister for Housing and Works Troy Buswell said many more homes would be available for people on the waiting list if this 40 % strike rate was repeated across the remaining 743 cases of potentially ineligible tenants.
“It is unfair that people who can afford to move into the private market are occupying public housing when there are people who are struggling to find a home for themselves and their families.” Mr. Buswell said.
“If people in public housing can afford to buy an investment property, or their income is now substantially higher than when they moved into public housing, these people will be asked to move out into private rentals or their own investment property.
“I expect there will be a significant number of eviction notices issued by the time the department finishes interviews in October.”
Case studies from the audit team include several examples of tenants whose weekly earnings exceeded set income limits by several hundred dollars.
The homes of evicted ineligible tenants have been allocated to various tenants, including families on the public housing waiting list for more than a year.
Mr. Buswell said public housing was a safety net for people who would otherwise have nowhere else to go.
“Public housing is there for a reason, to help people who are in difficult social or financial circumstances, and assist them to get back on their feet and to put a roof over their head.” Mr. Buswell said.
Investigations last year identified up to 1350 tenants who were potentially ineligible for housing assistance.
Further investigation cleared 607 people, including tenants whose households were subject to higher income limits either because they were located in the North-West of the state or their household included a person with a disability.
Tenants were also excluded from the initial group after the apportioning of Family Tax Benefits A & B and child maintenance in accordance with the Department’s rent setting policies and in cases where household details had subsequently changed.