Antisocial behaviour by Canberra public housing tenants is forcing neighbours to seek psychological help for trauma, according to the ACT Ombudsman.
The watchdog says the tortuous process of getting deadbeat tenants evicted from taxpayer-owned homes is making their victims' suffering worse.
In her annual report, acting Ombudsman Alison Larkins says the bureaucracy surrounding the evictions process can be lengthy and ''intractable''.
Ms Larkins says householders who have been subject to assaults, threats, abuse or property damage have been driven to seek medical or psychological treatment to cope with the strain and have still not been able to secure eviction notices against their tormenters.
The Ombudsman acknowledged that Housing ACT had recently made policy changes to help protect its tenants and she said her agency would be monitoring the effectiveness of the actions.
Public housing tenants have the same rights as private renters and an eviction requires an order of the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which must first consider evidence of antisocial behaviour and be satisfied the tenant has been treated with procedural fairness.
''Housing ACT cannot summarily evict tenants and has no lawful right to intervene in the lives of people who happen to have Housing ACT as a landlord,'' Ms Larkins wrote.
''People who live in, or adjacent to, public housing may have an expectation that antisocial or nuisance tenants who are moved into their neighbourhood by Housing ACT can be just as easily moved out. This is not the case.''
The Ombudsman said a pattern of aggressive or antisocial conduct had to be proven before a tenant could be removed but it was often the victim who had to gather the evidence.
''Complainants consider this frustrating and unfair; they believe that they are doing the job that Housing ACT or the police should be doing,'' she wrote.
In some cases, residents are seeking medical attention for the trauma.
''Some complainants have reported that they or their family members have become so traumatised by their experiences that they now require medical or psychological intervention to cope,'' Ms Larkins wrote.
''Complainants report that despite having complained to Housing ACT and to the police, no action has been taken to curb the behaviour or to evict nuisance tenants.
''The Ombudsman's investigations of these complaints have shown that these matters can become intractable and difficult to resolve within time frames considered reasonable for the complainant.''
Privacy provisions were also causing problems for the complaints process.
''The complainant generally has no lawful right to know what, if anything, Housing ACT has done or said to the tenant about whom they have complained,'' Ms Larkins wrote.
''This again creates frustration for the complainant and reinforces their view that Housing ACT is 'doing nothing'.''
She acknowledged recent initiatives by Housing Minister Joy Burch with ''provisional'' tenancies for tenants with histories of antisocial conduct and a Housing ACT unit for more effective intervention in such cases.
''The ACT Ombudsman's office will monitor the effectiveness of these initiatives, and the support and assistance extended to complainants while they wait for a matter to be resolved,'' she wrote.