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They destroy, you pay.

By Mike Jeffreys - 7 November 2014 35

vandalise-stock

What to do with the ferals?

We don’t seem to have much by way of answers in this part of the world.

I’m talking about the wreckers who cost us money and make damned nuisances of themselves but not to the point where we are prepared to put them in gaol – in this case those who vandalize their taxpayer provided accommodation.

ABC Online reported recently that “According to an ACT Government department, public housing properties in the ACT received nearly $73,000 worth of damage each week last financial year.

ACT Housing and Community Services figures show in all more than $3.7 million in damage was reported at properties due to vandalism, misuse or neglect in 2013-14.

That amount was on top of damage caused through normal wear and tear.”

So, it’s deliberate – or certainly avoidable – damage.

Housing and Community Services executive director David Matthews sought to dilute the issue with some meaningless maths.
He averaged out the damage bill – to no point whatever – and told us that it worked out to $320 per property.
In doing so, he contradicted his previous position that most tenants are responsible types.

On the one hand Mr Matthews presumably wants us to believe that only a small proportion of the tenants are deliberately destructive but then goes on to amortise the cost over the lot.
This seems hardly fair to the people who look after the properties they live in, and I am prepared to believe Mr Matthews when he says this is true of the majority.

It acknowledges the real world position where in any given example a small number of miscreants usually cause most of the trouble.
He goes on to say “But in the context of 11,800 properties and the over 20,000 people who live in public housing, the amount is not unreasonable.
“I think we experience exactly the same issues as everywhere else in the country and even in the private rental market generally.”
Neither of those statements is correct.

It’s not reasonable for a few ferals to needlessly waste money paid in tax by the reasonably law abiding just because they hate the world, don’t value what is given to them free or are so lazy and dissolute they simply don’t care to keep their habitat in good order.
As to his second comment, apparently Mr Matthews’ Granny never told him that two wrongs don’t make a right.
Also I dispute the idea the private rental market operates the same way.
Bad tenants get found out, get evicted, lose their bond money, find it hard to rent again and so on.

When I was in Canberra I remember getting phone calls on the air from public service employees who told me that the files on the consistent troublemakers used to get put to the bottom of the pile (these days I assume figuratively speaking) because it was just all too hard.
I don’t think we’re really going to see anything much done, but for entertainment purposes only, let me recount what was told to me by a radio announcer from Singapore years ago.
He said that when the administration needed factory fodder to keep the production lines rolling, they encouraged thousands of what were described as “hill people” to leave their mud huts and move to where the urban action was.
They were provided accommodation in government buildings at a nominal rent.
These were people to whom indoor plumbing and cooking was a new adventure.

But here’s the clever bit: the authorities would leave them alone for six months or so to give them enough time to get used to enjoying the pleasure of having money to spend on all the goods and services a developed modern city can provide.

In other words, they trained them to become good, dependent members of the consumer society.
Then the housing inspectors would call.

For every careless use (or non-use) of the bathroom facilities, for all the nasty stains, rips, tears, holes in the carpet, the walls or whatever – they were heavily fined.
This meant that our by now committed consumers had their consuming curtailed because of the sharp decrease in disposable income as a result of having to pay those heavy fines over months and years.

My informant assured me that the next time the inspectors called, there would be hardly a burn mark to be seen or stain to be explained.
Of course I don’t expect anything like the above to happen in the ACT.

I’m just offering what I hope is a pleasant mental picture of what might be done in an alternate universe if the thought of your hard earned being deliberately wasted makes you angry.

What’s Your opinion?


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35 Responses to
They destroy, you pay.
Antagonist 12:24 pm 08 Nov 14

Slumlord said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Did you read the article? $3.7m damage, $660k recovered. Who do you think paid the rest? Renders your entire comment redundant.

I did read the article. Clearly you have not. Here are two very important sentences from the original article for you to consider:

“… it doesn’t mean that it’s deliberate damage,” he [Housing and Community Services executive director David Matthews] said. “It can be everything from people getting locked out of their properties and needing a 24-hour locksmith, to large families where children break windows.”

One of my kids broke the glass in a sliding door playing cricket in the back yard at a cost of over $500. Does that mean I should forfeit my property?

“If they’re a current tenant we ask them to enter into a repayment agreement with us and if they’ve left our housing then we have to go to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and get an order like every other landlord,” he said.”

Well looky at that! People are expected to repay the debt – just like in any privately rented property. It is not the free ride Mike Jeffreys would have you believe.

dungfungus 11:10 am 08 Nov 14

HenryBG said :

Realm said :

JC said :

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Yeah, *normal* people should pay for the damage they cause, but *he* is special and shouldn’t have to.

Welcome to the wonderful post-modern world of personal exceptionalism. Infects everything.

You make a fair point Henry but we are talking about wilful damage being inflicted and no one deserves any concessions in that situation.
My mother was in a Housing unit for many years and she was a bit clumsy. After the contractors that Housing use stuffed a couple of repairs up I used to make good all the problems she had after.
One has to ask why JC didn’t replace the cistern himself – they only cost about $50 ) or less at a recycler).
If his mother has any more problems that need fixing just give dungers a call.

JC 10:53 am 08 Nov 14

HenryBG said :

Realm said :

JC said :

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Yeah, *normal* people should pay for the damage they cause, but *he* is special and shouldn’t have to.

Welcome to the wonderful post-modern world of personal exceptionalism. Infects everything.

So typical a snide comment from someone who didn’t even read what was written. For one I am not an act housing tenant I own my own place. Secondly the story was about my mother and to be honest a tenant of 37 years with no previous damage I think it was a bit rich considering it was accidental and considering the cistern in my opinion was not fit for purpose. Heavy in a unit designed for old people connected to a rainwater rank that is filthy. That was the argument I used and housing agreeded. They also agreed with some plain dumb design and build issues with her place that they have fixed.

But if you want to be like that I would say over the past 37 years ACT housing and it’s predecessors has got out a lot of maintenance they were responsible for that me and my family did. All the while neighbouring houses got trashed and upgraded time and again.

Besides the purpose of that story was to show they will go people over relativily minor issues but trash the joint they will give you a new place and you get off Scott free.

JC 10:41 am 08 Nov 14

Realm said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

I cannot believe I am going to agree with something you have written.

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Yep because it was bullsh$t. They put in fancy heavy cisterns into a property specifically designed for older and disabled people. They expect said tenants to keep things clean and working. So how would you expect a 71 year old to clean the cistern. Anyway since then she has stopped cleaning it and the plumber has been out twice this year to fix it because the dirt from the rainwater tank gunks it up and it starts to leak. Now common sense would be you put in a good old plastic cistern.

HenryBG 8:09 am 08 Nov 14

Realm said :

JC said :

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Yeah, *normal* people should pay for the damage they cause, but *he* is special and shouldn’t have to.

Welcome to the wonderful post-modern world of personal exceptionalism. Infects everything.

dungfungus 8:02 am 08 Nov 14

Slumlord said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Did you read the article? $3.7m damage, $660k recovered. Who do you think paid the rest? Renders your entire comment redundant.

Exactly.
There are also limits on how much can be garnisheed from Centrelink.
Housing are not fast enough in evicting these defaulters so the longer they stay the more damage results.
Housing will also fund feral tenants they no longer want into private housing rental by giving them (not lending) enough money for the bond and first months rental.
God help the private landlord when they cop a hospital pass like that.

milkman 6:48 am 08 Nov 14

Realm said :

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

I cannot believe I am going to agree with something you have written.

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Welcome to the wonderful world of public housing. The problem here is that no-one really owns the properties in questions (yeah, yeah, ‘taxpayers do’), so no-one aggressively pushes issues to closure.

Realm 11:18 pm 07 Nov 14

JC said :

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

I cannot believe I am going to agree with something you have written.

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

So wait, she broke something that wasn’t hers, she was asked to pay for it, and you complained about that?

Slumlord 10:56 pm 07 Nov 14

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Did you read the article? $3.7m damage, $660k recovered. Who do you think paid the rest? Renders your entire comment redundant.

JC 8:42 pm 07 Nov 14

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

I cannot believe I am going to agree with something you have written.

But they do go after some tenants too. Like my 71 year old mother who lives in a new build purpose built seniors housing complex who dropped a porcelain cistern lid whilst cleaning the tank (due to the filthy water that comes from the rainwater tank. The whole cistern had to be replaced as lids cannot be purchased separately so total cost $400. Never mind mum has been a tenant since 1978 with no previous damage reports and glowing reports of who well she has maintained the two properties she has lived in.

She had the option of upfront repayment or $10p/f. She took the latter but it was stopped after a strongly worded letter to the minister from me. Funny they also fixed some other stupid non senior friendly build issues that I raised with the minister but only on her property not the other dozen in the complex.

chewy14 4:17 pm 07 Nov 14

This is why the government should not be in the housing business at all.

The government should own a tiny amount of properties for those people who are truly unable to look after themselves or have serious health/mental issues and wouldn’t survive in the private rental market.

Everyone else that needs assistance to obtain accommodation should be provided with money/subsidies/rent assistance and forced to apply for private rental properties just like everyone else in the rental market. People who damage property or won’t look after their rental will find out pretty quickly what it’s like to be homeless if they won’t abide by the rules. At the moment there’s almost zero consequences for people who damage tax payer funded accommodation.

Antagonist 4:11 pm 07 Nov 14

dungfungus said :

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

It gets deducted from the housing tenants Centrelink benefit as a sundry debt (assuming that is their primary income), similar to garnishing wages.

dungfungus 1:45 pm 07 Nov 14

Antagonist said :

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

Being liable for the damage they cause and actually paying for it is an alien concept for these type of tenants.

Antagonist 12:26 pm 07 Nov 14

If a public housing tenant damages or destroys their house, they have to pay for it. Not the taxpayer. Which renders your entire article redundant.

FeelingFab 11:25 am 07 Nov 14

I like your article. I work with a lot of Housing Tenants – but not in ACT Housing. Some Housing people are great, fab, caring and considerate of their property. Some aren’t and when they hoard or damage property in other ways they are referred to sustainable tenancy workers to help them and many are taken to the tribunal.

The people who are in ACT Housing are people with issues, they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t. It is so incredibly hard, like almost to lotto winning odds hard to get a ACT Housing House. Only the most needy, the most damaged, people who have suffered and continue to suffer get a house. That doesn’t excuse trashing places at all. The houses are not well maintained by Housing ACT. They are often very cold with tiny heaters, broken everything, missing bits like hand rails on stairs or vents in roofs or carpet. This doesn’t excuse trashing places either. Most tenants are genuinely grateful for a place to be safe.

I don’t know if fining people is the way to go, maybe more education on what is right and what is wrong. Maybe at sign up, more inspections to start off with. One every two weeks for two months would be good. It would give an excellent indication of the things tenants may need help with, ACT Housing could get on top of issues quickly and the tenant can bring up issues they think needs attention. Unfortunately it would also cost the tax payers money, but it may stop the cycle.
I now I should just give them hugs and puppies! But anyway I’m a bit of a bleeding heart but that’s my 2 cents.

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