ACT News

Public housing tenants fear for their safety

The ACT's public housing authority has defended the behaviour of its tenants, while sending a reminder any anti-social behaviour could lead to eviction after residents' fears led police to increase patrols in one southside complex.  

Complaints about a threat of violence and drug use by tenants in one apartment at the Kurralta Court public accommodation in Waramanga have prompted monitoring by ACT Housing in addition to the police attention.

A Community Services Directorate spokesman said a meeting of the largely older residence base, ACT Housing, police and the Council on the Ageing would seek to ease concerns about the three tenants, who one resident said arrived many months ago.

"We are aware of the concerns of some residents in Waramanga and have met them. Extra security patrols have also been arranged," the spokesman said.

"By and large our tenants are well-behaved and no tenants were removed from their homes in the last year as a result of poor behaviour."

A resident who spoke anonymously to the Sunday Canberra Times  said the tenants would bother their neighbour with regular requests for money, cigarettes, food and transport.

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On another occasion in recent weeks a request to turn the noise down led to one person having "the knife pulled on him", the resident said.

"Some of the people are getting very frightened of them. We're all senior citizens, we're all 60-80 years old and we don't want worry."

An ACT Policing spokeswoman said police had assigned a liaison officer in the Crime Reduction team to connect with the parties involved and identify any criminal activity.

"In addition, the area concerned has been assigned increased targeted patrols, as resources and priorities allow," she said.   

The Community Services Directorate spokesman said residents in breach of any clause of their tenancy agreement could lose their accommodation.

"The circumstances under which tenants may be removed include noise, anti-social behaviour or nuisance or allowing the premises to be used for criminal activity," he said.

Legislation provides both public and private tenants can only be removed unwillingly after a notice of remedy for a specified breach is served and a request is then made to ACAT for eviction for a failure to correct the breach. 

"As with any tenant, in private or public housing, being found guilty of criminal behaviour does not automatically mean they will be evicted by their landlord," the spokesman said.

There are more than 20,000 public tenants in the ACT. Four were evicted for anti-social behaviour in 2012-13.