Kalgoorlie-Boulder Homeswest properties in Boulder with its windows smashed and boarded up. Homeswest tenants who trash their homes are causing nearly $135,000 of property damage a week. Please do not use full street address in caption.
Kalgoorlie-Boulder Homeswest properties in Boulder with its windows smashed and boarded up. Homeswest tenants who trash their homes are causing nearly $135,000 of property damage a week. Please do not use full street address in caption.

Legal groups have joined forces to defend public housing tenants who they claim are being forced into homelessness by the State Government's three-strikes policy.

The lobby group, led by Murdoch University's School of Law and the SCALES community legal centre, was formed as figures revealed almost 10 public housing tenants a month were evicted in WA this year.

Murdoch's director of clinical legal programs, Anna Copeland, said under the policy, introduced in May last year, tenants were evicted without having the chance to defend themselves in court or appeal.

"A tenant must understand why they are in breach of their lease and the decision has to be procedurally fair and just," she said. "But what we're seeing is tenants being refused the opportunity to address or even see the evidence against them.

"It's having an enormous impact on families. We're talking about families with children being evicted to homelessness. It's resulting in children being taken from parents by the Department for Child Protection. It has really negative and long-lasting effects."

Ms Copeland said that despite the introduction of new provisions designed to protect tenants' rights, courts were accepting dated lists of incidents to show recurring behaviour without tenants being able to give their side of the story.

Sue Chadwick, a tenancy team leader from the Northern Suburbs Community Legal Centre, said the system was discriminatory.

"Judges are saying, 'I don't want to hear what you've got to say, I just want to hear from the department'," she said.

Under the disruptive behaviour management strategy, immediate action is taken to evict tenants displaying dangerous behaviour, including violence towards neighbours, arson or making drugs.

If an offence is considered minor, such as excessive noise, evictions occur after three strikes over 12 months. Up to October 31, 89 eviction notices were given under the three-strikes policy.

Departing of Housing general manager Steve Parry said the department reviewed all action to ensure accuracy and consistency.

The West Australian

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