In early March Housing Tasmania has introduced a 3 Strikes Policy for all their tenants. In a letter accompanied by a factsheet, tenants were informed about the changes.
The policy allows Housing Tasmania to give their tenants a warning notice for a breach of their lease agreement based on anti-social behaviour. Depending on the level of the alleged bad behaviour this can escalate to a second warning and then to the issuing of a Notice to Vacate. The 3 Strikes Policy is in line with the Liberal governments promise to curb anti-social behaviour in public housing.
The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania has voiced its concerns over the implementation of a 3 Strikes Policy on a number of occassions. Indeed our previous Acting Principal Solicitor Tim Walter wrote in an article for Parity in May 2014, which was republised here, about the use of such a policy in other states and the limited benefits it has had. He argued that such disciplinary strategies without having supporting strategies surrounding them may lead to evictions in instances where this could and should possibly have been avoided, especially if vulnerable people like children, victims of domestic violence or people who suffer from a mental illness are affected by the eviction.
On a more positive note the policy does provide Housing Tasmania tenants with a warning system that is not essentially required under the Residenial Tenancy Act (the Act) and this may benefit them to maintain their tenancy without fear of imminent eviction.
Final discussions between Housing Tasmania and the sector placed emphasis on ensuring that the policy complied with the Act and pursued the sound idea that when using certain terminology, it should be in line with the Act as much as possible, in particular when referring to certain types of behaviour. Another concern raised was for Housing Tasmania to ensure transparency in its decision making process when using this to evict a tenant and ensuring that tenants were fully aware of their options with regards to review of such a decision.
The Tenants’ Union of Tasmania are disappointed about not being provided a final opportunity to view the recommended changes prior to the policy’s implementation and voice concerns over the manner in which the tenants were informed of this.