ROGUE public housing tenants will soon face stricter penalties for bad behaviour with the State Government today launching a "three-strikes and you're out" policy.
Minister for Housing Tim Mander said the new policy would see problem tenants evicted if they failed to curb their behaviour.
"While the majority of our tenants do the right thing, there is an anti-social minority who treat their neighbours with contempt and the taxpayers with disdain," Mr Mander said.
"At a bare minimum, people are expected to refrain from destroying the property or using it to conduct a criminal enterprise. Similarly, there is an expectation that tenants won't behave in a way that is unnecessarily disruptive to others in the neighbourhood."
Under the new policy, tenants would be evicted if they received three strikes in a 12-month-period for actions such as hosting out-of-control parties, aggressive behaviour or vandalism.
Tenants found to have caused extensive damage to the property or engaged in unlawful behaviour like manufacturing drugs will face immediate eviction, and people evicted under the new policy will be ineligible to reapply for social housing for three months.
Shadow Housing Minister Jo-Ann Miller says the Newman Government's "three-strikes and you're out" public housing policy is a rehash of existing procedures but takes away tenants' appeal rights.
"Bad tenants should not be tolerated in public or private housing under any circumstance, but the existing rules allow for serious offenders to be evicted after just 'one strike' with others liable to be shown the door after 'three strikes' in one year," Mrs Miller said.
"There are no details yet of the Newman Government's approach especially whether it is based on a WA model that does not allow a tenant to appeal a 'strike' notice or enter mediation, where the current Queensland model does.
Mr Mander said tenants would have every chance to modify their behaviour and sustain their tenancy.
"After the first strike, tenants will be issued with a written warning. After the second, they will have to sign an Acceptable Behaviour Agreement to demonstrate that they understand what is, and what is not, acceptable," he said.
"However, we need to be very clear that there will be consequences for people who simply refuse to do the right thing.
"This policy is about sending a clear message to those who are hell-bent on doing the wrong thing that we will not accept disruptive, dangerous or illegal behaviour."
Ms Miller said the State Government has already scrapped funding to more than 20 Tenant Advocacy and Advice Services (TAAS) across the state supported by the Tenants' Union of Queensland.
"Without TAAS tenants have no access to information and advice on how to better understand their rights and responsibilities under Queensland laws," she said.
"The State Government is making it impossible for tenants in Queensland to access services and advice about doing the right thing.
"A better approach by the State Government would be to use the administrative costs associated with this 'new' policy to fund TAAS into the future."
Mrs Miller said the federal government provided $3.3 million in emergency funding in October to ensure TAAS
offices stayed open after the savage cut to funding imposed in July by the LNP.
"The State Government must reinstate funding to ensure more than 20 TAAS offices across Queensland keep their doors open beyond June 30," she said.
"The administrative costs associated with this "new" policy would be better spent ensuring tenants are aware of their rights and responsibilities when they go into public housing and provide methods of mediation to ensure that all parties are supported."
- There are currently 23,000 households waiting for social housing in Queensland with more than half classified as High or Very High need.
- In 2012 the Department received 24,529 complaints about anti-social behaviour in public housing
- Between 2008 and 20011 tenants were issued with a combined 103,126 breach notices.
- Over the same period, only 320 households were evicted.
Last year unruly tenants caused more than $5 million worth of damage to government owned properties