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Public housing damage totals $3.7m

05 November 2014 Staff Reporter

Public housing properties in the ACT received nearly $73,000 worth of damage each week last financial year, according to an ACT government department.

ACT Housing and Community Services figures show more than $3.7 million in damage was reported at properties due to vandalism, misuse or neglect in 2013/2014.

That amount was on top of damage caused through normal wear and tear.

Despite the figures, Housing and Community Services executive director David Matthews said most public housing tenants were responsible.


He said the damage bill roughly worked out at $320 per property.

"The bill is obviously a number which we'd like to see lower than is," he told ABC News.

"But in the context of 11,800 properties and the over 20,000 people who live in public housing, the amount is not unreasonable.

"I think we experience exactly the same issues as everywhere else in the country and even in the private rental market generally."

Mr Matthews said it was important to recognise the different ways in which damage could be caused to properties.

"That's all damage that's not fair wear and tear, it doesn't mean that it's deliberate damage," he said.

"It can be everything from people getting locked out of their properties and needing a 24-hour locksmith, to large families where children break windows.

"But it can also be more serious things like domestic violence... so we need to handle that in a very sensitive way to make sure we're not worsening the situation for anybody."

Mr Matthews said some of the money could be recovered.

"If they're a current tenant we ask them to enter into a repayment agreement with us and if they've left our housing then we have to go to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal and get an order like every other landlord," he said.

Public housing damage totals $3.7m
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