Social housing overhaul needed to stop anti-social behaviour and maintenance backlog

Member for Toowoomba North Trevor Watts is calling for an overhaul of social housing in Toowoomba following a spike in complaints about anti-social behaviour, maintenance issues and reported vacancies.  

Mr Watts said many tenants were at their wit’s end because of the State Labor Government’s lackluster approach to behaviour management, allegations of criminal activity in department-owned properties and a backlog of maintenance requests. 

Toowoomba North MP Trevor Watts with social housing tenant Kath Johnson

“I am very concerned about the number of reports I’ve received about anti-social and alleged criminal behaviour taking place at social housing properties across Toowoomba North,” Mr Watts said.  

“Every person, regardless of where they live, has the right to a safe, quiet and peaceful home.

“Unfortunately, there are people in our community living in fear because no one will take their complaints seriously. 

“If the Minister receives an allegation of this nature, he has a responsibility to take action and refer the matter to the appropriate authorities. 

“These properties are paid for and maintained using taxpayer funds – tenants must respect them and adhere to the terms of their tenancy agreement which set out basic standards of behaviour.

“These properties should not be used to house people who are undertaking illegal activities or behaving inappropriately.

“What needs to happen for the Minister to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘enough is enough’?”

The LNP had a very clear Anti-social Behaviour Management Policy (three strikes) in government.

“Under this policy, a tenant would be evicted if they received ‘three strikes’ in a 12-month period for breaching behavioural standards including hosting out-of-control parties, aggressive behaviour and vandalism,” Mr Watts said.  

“Any tenant evicted for anti-social behaviour would then be ineligible to reapply for social housing for three months.

“If elected, the LNP will reinstate the same strict behaviour management policy for social housing tenants to ensure every Queenslander can live without fear, intimidation and disruptions. 

“This policy sends a clear message that unruly behaviour by tenants will not be tolerated.

“Social housing is an important safety net for vulnerable Queenslanders – it must be treated as such, rather than as a haven for people seeking to disrupt their neighbors or engage in illegal activities.

“The latest advice from the Minister suggests there are approximately 510 individual applicants on the social housing waitlist in the Toowoomba Local Government area.

“The impact of COVID-19 has only compounded this problem.

“Overhauling the social housing management system is critical to ensuring we can look after our community’s most vulnerable.”