Police-enforced evictions have come under scrutiny after a director of an indigenous housing estate complained about the removal of three tenants from the Townsville property by police last week.
The residents were evicted from the Mitakoodi Corporation home following seven months of repeated attempts by LJ Hooker Mount Isa, which managed the property, to resolve breaches of the Residential Tenancy Act.
Joan Alexander told The North West Star she did not think the reason for an eviction was appropriate.
"They are paying their rent and doing a bit of drinking there, but they've [LJ Hooker] been on their back for a month now," she said.
A spokesperson from LJ Hooker Mount Isa said notices were served to the tenants to amend “complicated social issues” that were not followed and which forced them to take the matter to court.
"It was not rental arrears, it's a social issue affecting the Cloncurry community," she told The North West Star. "If you are drunk and disorderly and disturbing the peace and the enjoyment of other people, action needs to be taken."
In an email to Residential Property Manager, a spokesperson said the eviction was the result of an order from the Mount Isa Magistrate’s Court.
"LJ Hooker Mount Isa continues to manage accommodation for more than 200 tenants within the Mitakoodi Corporation’s Cloncurry properties," the spokesperson said.
The company would make no further comment.
Director of Metro Property Management Leah Calnan in Victoria supported the actions of LJ Hooker, saying the situation must have reached a severe state or have been substantially out of control for the agency to have gone down that path.
“Generally speaking, in my experience, we serve a breach of notice and that quietens down the tenants’ noise or disturbance," she said.
However, if she had an order of possession she would always engage the service of police in executing warrants.
“It’s not uncommon, particularly in situations where tenants are late in arrears, where you need police to physically remove the tenant,” she said.
“I think the hardest times as a property manager are when you arrive at the property to execute the warrant and you find that the tenant is still in the premises. It’s quite awkward and uncomfortable.
“I’ve had an occasion a few years ago where the police followed the tenant after they left the property and continued to follow them for a few kilometres to make sure they weren’t going to come back.”
Ms Calnan said it was potentially risky due to a high proportion of females in property management.
“They can put themselves in a very awkward and unfamiliar situation when somebody in the heat of the moment can do something terrible because they’re being evicted from the homes,” she said.