Rocky landlord evicts migrant family with bizarre habits

HIGH AND DRY: Kieran, Kate and Kruz Howard have been left out of pocket after Sri Lankan migrants damaged their rental property.
HIGH AND DRY: Kieran, Kate and Kruz Howard have been left out of pocket after Sri Lankan migrants damaged their rental property. Chloe Lyons

HAS Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull considered a question about people chopping up vegetables on floorboards in his new citizenship test?

Following Rockhampton man Kieran Howard's "experience", it's certainly something worth considering.

Mr Howard today spoke about why he felt forced to evict a Sri Lankan family, who he claims left thousands of dollars worth of damage to his Berserker rental home.

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He feels the family of six was let down by those supposed to help migrants integrate as they were not equipped with the life skills needed to meet the expectations of every day Australians.

This included a repairman, who said in a signed statement he saw the tenants chopping up vegetables with sharp knives on Mr Howard's polished floorboards.

The organisation which facilitated the tenancy, Multicultural Development Australia (MDA), integrates migrants and refugees with the website claiming they help new arrivals "overcome the everyday challenges of settling in to a new country" and provide them with "cultural orientation".

Jill Armstrong, the Rockhampton Regional Manager for MDA, rejected Mr Howard's claims that her organisation hadn't fulfilled its responsibilities, despite photos taken by a real estate agent during an inspection showing damage.


Photos taken by a real estate agent during an inspection show filth left under Mr Howard's rental property's stove.
Photos taken by a real estate agent during an inspection show filth left under Mr Howard's rental property's stove. Contributed

"The landlord raised a concern with us that his house had been damaged by the tenants and vociferously demanded compensation," Ms Armstrong said.

"The family's case manager visited the property and it did not appear to be damaged as claimed.

"We referred the family to the Qld Statewide Tenant Advice and Referral Service (QSTARS) who subsequently conducted their own investigation. They too determined the landlord's claims to be unsubstantiated and assisted the family to dispute the claim with the tribunal.

"Our understanding is that QSTARS are still supporting the family through the tribunal process."


Photos taken by a real estate agent during an inspection show knife marks left on the floor of Mr Howard's rental home.
Photos taken by a real estate agent during an inspection show knife marks left on the floor of Mr Howard's rental home. Contributed

When the tenants moved to the Berserker house in June 2015, Mr Howard said he, along with the property's real estate agent, expressed concern as the family had never rented in Australia and had no referees.

He said MDA assured them the tenants were capable of maintaining a property to a high standard and the organisation would help them in doing so.

The family were evicted last Wednesday after leaving the home with smashed windows, soiled carpets and broken cupboards, Mr Howard said.

He has now had to spend his own money and the Easter long weekend fixing up the property, with MDA reluctant to talk.

"I've always had to either go down to their office to plead and beg to talk about it, or ring their Brisbane office," he said.

"MDA is meant to be representing them and doing this for them, but they were extremely difficult to deal with."

He said he felt the Sri Lankan family had also been let down and they would find it hard to find somewhere else to live.

"These people haven't learnt anything, they've been kicked out of my house and now they have to find new accommodation with terrible referees," Mr Howard said.

"I don't believe the tenants deliberately damaged the property, but it's from lack of integration into our society."

Mr Howard also alleges he has been unable to access bond to repair the property as Tenants Queensland had lodged to contest on behalf of the tenants.

He said he attempted to find a resolution with Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but an MDA representative failed to show up.

Tenants Queensland were unable to comment on the case specifically, but a spokesperson said they usually help clients deal with their own tenancy issues and while they sometimes acted on behalf of tenants, with their instructions, they had no power to determine disputes.

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