Three strikes to eviction: law to tighten on abusive renters

A NEW "three strikes and you're out" approach to abusive public housing tenants in NSW could be a key to curbing anti-social behaviour in South Grafton, according to long-term resident Patty McDonald.

The approach, which includes a provision for criminals who are caught illegally storing guns or running drug labs or brothels from their taxpayer-subsidised homes to face immediate eviction, is set to be ticked off with bipartisan support.

Tweed MP Geoff Provest told Parliament that using threatening language and harassing neighbours, excessive noise from wild parties or even blaring TVs, vandalism and abandoning cars in common areas would all trigger a strike.

Noisy car repairs in communal areas and leaving large amounts of rubbish in a home or garden will be grounds for a strike.

Ms McDonald, a grandmother who has openly called for change to the management of government-subsidised housing after a number of bad experiences with neighbours, said it was about time something was done to curb anti-social behaviour in the public housing community.

"A lot of houses around here are vacant and boarded up now, and there are others that will be," she said.

"It's not that you want to see anyone without a house, but it's up to the tenants to appreciate and show appreciation for what they've got.

"You can't have someone come in and smash up houses, terrorise the neighbours and cause problems then say 'I'm more entitled that someone who's not going to cause problems'.

Queensland and Western Australian governments have introduced similar laws and found about 80% of offenders clean up their act after receiving their first strike.

"What Housing NSW was tolerating was at a huge cost to the taxpayer, but now I think there will be more consideration," Ms McDonald said.

"It shows they're demanding more respect for the homes they're offering people and it makes you feel that we've all gained ground."

Mr Provest said the only way for NSW residents to have a public housing neighbour evicted is if they are willing to give evidence before a tribunal.

He said a clear-cut, three-part warning system would stop the vast majority of cases progressing that far.

"Tenants may give evidence about illegal behaviour at the tribunal only to find out that their neighbour is not evicted and they have to continue living alongside them," he said.

"The person exhibiting the anti-social behaviour obviously made life hell for the elderly people who eventually had to move because they were so intimidated."

Opposition MP Tania Mihailuk said Labor would support the changes but called for amendments to protect a tenant's rights if the person exhibiting the anti-social behaviour was a visitor.

She also called for an extension of the time for tenants to respond to accusations from 28 days to 60 days.

"The Government must not absolve itself from its duty to protect social housing tenants from unnecessary eviction from their social housing tenancies," she said.