Pub­lic hous­ing ar­rears jump

Narrogin Observer - - Front Page - Tayler Neale

Pub­lic hous­ing debt in the Great South­ern has surged more than 15 per cent in the lat­est State Govern­ment fig­ures.

Money owed by cur­rent and for­mer Hous­ing Au­thor­ity ten­ants in­creased 15.2 per cent from $1.38 mil­lion in 2015-16 to $1.59 mil­lion last fi­nan­cial year.

De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices as­sis­tant di­rec­tor-gen­eral hous­ing Greg Cash said de­spite the rise in debt the de­part­ment was be­com­ing more proac­tive in re­coup­ing money owed.

“The level of hous­ing ten­ant debt re­flects the ac­tions of a very small per­cent­age of ten­ants who ac­cess so­cial hous­ing but cause dam­age or are delin­quent in rent or util­i­ties pay­ments,” he said.

“De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices is tak­ing a more ac­tive ap­proach in iden­ti­fy­ing at-risk ten­an­cies and work­ing with those ten­ants to en­sure prop­erty stan­dards are main­tained, and rent and util­i­ties pay­ments are up to date.

“Where ten­ants have va­cated their ten­an­cies, the de­part­ment is ac­tively pur­su­ing them, di­rectly or via a debt col­lec­tion agency, to es­tab­lish af­ford­able re­pay­ment ar­range­ments and re­cover the out­stand­ing debts.”

Va­cated debt, money owed by for­mer ten­ants, rose from $1.14 mil­lion to nearly $1.4 mil­lion, while debt ac­crued by cur­rent ten­ants de­creased from $234,000 to $200,000.

Mr Cash said re­gional pub­lic hous­ing debt was typ­i­cally higher than met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas.

“His­tor­i­cally, dam­age costs are higher in non-met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas,” he said.

“This is of­ten due to ex­ten­sive dam­age by fire or, in some cases, cy­clone dam­age or aban­don­ment.

“Re­pair costs are of­ten higher in non-met­ro­pol­i­tan ar­eas due to the dis­tances in­volved and higher costs of trades and ma­te­ri­als re­quired.

“Debt in­curred by land­lords as a re­sult of ten­ant dam­age is not ex­clu­sive to State Gov­ern­men­towned dwellings, it is also a ma­jor is­sue for the pri­vate prop­erty man­age­ment in­dus­try.”

Over­all pub­lic hous­ing debt in WA has in­creased 33 per cent in the past two years and now to­tals more than $55 mil­lion.


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