Criminals could be barred from living in NSW public housing following a controversial tribunal decision that allowed a convicted drug dealer to remain in his taxpayer-funded apartment.
Reported in the Daily Telegraph, the state government is looking at methods – including draft legislation – that will make those convicted serious crimes ineligible for taxpayer-funded homes.
The government is also considering removing the power of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to reinstate tenants who repeatedly break the law.
In one recent NCAT decision, the government was denied the ability to evict a man who was caught dealing drugs out of his Housing NSW apartment in 2006 and 2014.
The Land and Housing Corporation applied to evict a Redfern resident on August 19 after he was caught with trafficable quantities of ice and cannabis in the apartment he has lived in since 2001 on a lease inherited from his mother.
In evidence to the tribunal, he admitted using the apartment to sell drugs — something he was previously convicted of in 2006.
However, the tribunal rejected the Land and Housing Corporation’s application to evict him, finding that even though he admitted dealing drugs out of the property, “there is no adverse effects on neighbouring residents, the risk to neighbours is limited, the landlord’s responsibility to its other tenants, if any, is not quantified”.
This is despite the act governing the tenancy agreement explicitly prohibiting the use of the property for supplying or manufacturing drugs.
Community services minister Gabrielle Upton said decisions like these show the system needs to change.
“People who deal in drugs from public housing have so seriously breached their tenancy agreement that they should be evicted,” she told the Daily Telegraph.
“Where serious crimes have taken place on the premises, the tribunal’s discretion not to terminate should be removed.”
Ms Upton said the changes would make it fairer for those who did the right thing, and could free up properties for the 58,000 applicants on the public housing waiting list.
“It is not fair or right to be in public housing at considerable cost to taxpayers after pleading guilty to the supply of methylamphetamine,” she said.
“Good tenants ... should not have to put up with this type of behaviour.”