A Queensland pensioner has called for better treatment of social housing tenants with a “good record”, following the tightening of generous public housing rules.
Morningside housing tenant Colin, who did not want his last name printed, said he was dismayed to find he needed to apply to the Housing Department for a three-week overseas trip to visit two sick relatives in his wife’s family, as reported by Quest Community Newspapers.
He said, after almost two decades with a history of being a good tenant he was disappointed he needed to apply for the holiday.
“I’ve spent 17 years in this unit, we’ve always kept our unit immaculate and we always pay our bills before they are due,” he said.
He also said the four-week limit was also too short for a retiree wanting an overseas holiday.
“I think the people living in housing who have been good tenants [and have] looked after their units should be left alone and if they want to go away for six to eight weeks they should be allowed,” he added.
The Queensland government moved to tighten public housing rules in February, after properties were left vacant for up to a year while tenants took “extended holidays or served prison terms”.
Housing minister Tim Mander said, under Labor’s old rules tenants could take getaways of up to 12 months without putting their tenancies at risk.
“These houses are there to house the most vulnerable members of society. They’re no good to anyone sitting there empty,” Mr Mander said.
Mr Mander said under the new rules, breaks for the purposes of taking a holiday would be capped at four weeks, with tenants required to seek departmental approval for anything longer.
“For example, in cases where a tenant is undergoing an extended stay in hospital, or is away due to legitimate work or study commitments, it makes sense to allow a longer absence,” Mr Mander said.