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Social Housing - Issues

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Tags: Housing Crisis, Social and Affordable Housing

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, the Greens support this motion and we believe it is written in such a way that is fact-rich and unarguable in its intent. Like Ms Haddad, I am a bit surprised that the minister has seen fit not to support it, or at least to amend it.

The fact is that whether it is Homes Tasmania or the state Government, ultimately, or a community housing provider, as landlords they have the same responsibilities as any other landlord. If a tenant in the private rental market has an issue with their hot water system, for example, they are entitled under the Residential Tenancy Act to contact their landlord and have their hot water system fixed, and the same goes for any other number of maintenance issues in the private rental market. There is no reason at all that Homes Tasmania or our community housing providers should feel that their obligations as landlords are any different from any other landlord in Tasmania.

I want to take issue with something the minister said about the COVID 19 arrangements that came in by legislation during the early days of the pandemic, and remind him that the COVID 19 measure that put a freeze on rent increases in the private rental market was put forward and negotiated by the Greens. We will not be written out of history by this minister or anyone else on that issue.

Mr Deputy Speaker, all of us here are lucky enough to have a secure and affordable home, and probably all of us here own the home we live in, which means we do not live in constant fear of a rent increase or eviction. However, that is the story for thousands and thousands of Tasmanians, whether they are in public or community housing or in the private rental market. Particularly in the private rental market, there is a high level of housing insecurity inability to meet the cost of rising rents and the constant threat and fear of eviction.

There is no reason at all that this Government should not meet the request at the end of this motion which is to commit to publishing a social housing condition report each quarter that includes the total maintenance liability of the social housing portfolio and a detailed breakdown of all required and completed maintenance work.

I will say this: as the minister who started the process of Better Housing Futures and the transfer to community housing providers, there was accommodation and I think enough enticement within the handover of management of public housing properties to community housing providers - some of it was coupled with land release to those community housing providers to invest in more homes - for them to be able to take care of the maintenance backlog in those homes that Housing Tasmania handed over, and I have been somewhat surprised as a local member that we get about the same number of complaints, whether it is people who are living in Housing Tasmania homes or homes that are managed by community housing providers, about maintenance issues that are not addressed.

As we know, Tasmania has the coldest homes in the country. Many of our Housing Tasmania properties were built at a time when they did not think so much about insulation and design. Those homes that are now being managed by community housing providers too are often outdated and need constant maintenance.

We think that the minister, who delivers a lot of spin and not much substance, I have to say, should not be afraid to be upfront about what the social housing maintenance backlog is and provide a condition report for those homes which, let us face it, are public property. They belong to the people of Tasmania, so maximum transparency about the management of those homes is really important, but it matters more than anything else to the people who are living in them and it is not enough for the minister to come in here and say he is fixing up the backlog. I encourage the minister to get out to places like Clarendon Vale and Brighton, where people are living in homes that have been waiting for maintenance for months and years.