Minggu, 13 September 2009

Housing Minister orders: 'move this person'

The Herald reports today that the Housing Minister, David Borger, has ordered Housing NSW to move a tenant recently housed in public housing in Sydney's north-west. The tenant is notorious for being convicted of child sex offences. It is reported that the tenancy is 'near' a school, but that the location complies with legal restrictions on the person's proximity to schools. The Minister, however, says:

"As I parent, I can tell you that I do not think it is an appropriate location. He needs to be moved and I have instructed my department to get cracking on that and make sure he is moved as soon as possible.... My hope is that he will be moved by tonight.

"I've instructed my department to review all circumstances in this matter and, as soon as I became aware of this matter, I have instructed my department to move this person."

I'm not going to comment on the tenant in this case, but a couple of points about his landlord should be made.

First, Housing NSW, like other landlords, cannot simply 'move' people as it likes – at least, not 'by tonight'. If landlord and tenant agree on the move, of course, the tenant can go as quickly as they can find somewhere else to stay; but if the tenant does not agree, they are entitled to stay put until such time as their tenancy is terminated. To give any impression to the contrary is to give a false impression, and false expectations.

Secondly, while it does sometimes happen that Housing NSW makes poor decisions as to the allocations of properties, it may not have actually done so in this case – I should not be surprised if they actually took greater than usual care here, considering the notoriety of the applicant. But even if that's not the case, is Housing NSW really likely to make a better allocation decision in the present, highly pressurised circumstances? One of the questions in an allocation decision is the availability of services for a tenant's support, treatment and monitoring: will that question be resolved any better wherever it is that the tenant is moved to next? By tonight?