$160,000 damage bill to public housing

HORROR TENANTS: Examples of damage caused to public housing in the Bundaberg region. Photo: contributed
HORROR TENANTS: Examples of damage caused to public housing in the Bundaberg region. Photo: contributed contributed

ABOUT $160,000 of damage was caused to Bundaberg's public housing properties in the past financial year and people living near the government properties say they are sick of the mess.

The region's bill is just a portion of the state's damage total of more than $5m and averages out to be about $154 per house when divided by the 1037 properties in the region. That figure drops even further when taking into account $80,000 of that damage was allegedly caused by one tenant.

And while most public housing renters are doing the right thing, those acting up are spoiling it for many.

A Millbank man who lives near a large public housing unit block said he was disgusted last month when he watched a parade of tradesmen and cleaners come to fix a property that had only been occupied for about six months.

The man, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, said he believed the tenants had been evicted due to the damage.

"I was talking to one of the workers and he said you wouldn't get much change out of $8000 to $10,000 (to fix it) and they were only there six or eight months," he said.

"It's always been a bit of a problem but it's worse recently.

"The property damage we've seen is astronomical."

The man said one tenant's children had ripped the palings from his fence and when he approached their mother, he was verbally abused.

"I tried calling a couple of them to task and I've been threatened with violence," he said.

Another Bundaberg woman who lives down the road from a public housing property and also wished to remain anonymous said she was sick of seeing tradesmen called in to repair the government housing.

"We've had some good ones, but when the last lady moved out it looks like they've had to rebuild a lot of the unit inside," she said.

"The amount of rubbish that was taken away was incredible.

"There was a plasterer, a painter and the windows and five doors had to be replaced."

But it seems the government is cracking down on unruly tenants with acting Minister for Housing and Public Works Steve Dickson saying public housing was a "privilege that comes with certain responsibilities".

"The government's three strikes policy sends a clear message that people who don't respect that privilege will find themselves at risk of being evicted," he said.

"Since the policy was introduced last year, the department has issued 48 first strikes, and eight second strikes in the Bundaberg region.

"The department also issued two first final strikes to tenants in Bundaberg for severe anti-social behaviour."

Mr Dickson said tenants evicted under the Three Strikes Policy were ineligible to apply for housing support for three months.

"Tenants found to have maliciously damaged their public housing properties can be evicted under the department's anti-social behaviour policy," he said.

"The government makes every effort to recover the cost of repairs from those responsible.

"In certain cases tenants may be charged with wilful damage. Tenants with a maintenance debt applied against their name are required to enter into a repayment schedule before being eligible for any future housing assistance."

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