The Housing Authority looks after people’s housing needs. However there are some things Housing can’t do because, under legislation, it is limited mainly to providing housing services.
Emergency accommodation / homelessness
The Housing Authority provides long term housing options. It does not provide crisis accommodation for people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
The Department for Child Protection and Family Support (CPFS) is the lead agency in this area. CPFS proactively works with government agencies and community service providers to plan and deliver homelessness services to respond to the needs of vulnerable Western Australians. These services include crisis and transitional accommodation, rough sleeper programs, day centres, soup kitchens, tenancy support services, and family and domestic violence services.
Tel: (08) 6277 5323
The Housing Authority is a housing provider and landlord, not a law enforcement agency.
If Housing is made aware of illegal acts being committed at its properties by its tenants, the police will be informed. Housing cannot ‘arrest’ people, nor does it have the power to investigate suspected illegal activities.
If a tenant commits a crime such as assault or property damage, like any landlord, Housing is not responsible for their behaviour, nor does it condone it.
If a neighbour of one of Housing’s tenants believes that the tenant has committed a crime, they should first contact the police.
The Housing Authority is primarily a housing service-provider but as a government agency acknowledges it has a higher level of social responsibility than a private landlord would have for the wellbeing of its tenants.
A key service Housing recommends to tenants in need of support is the Support and Tenant Education Program (STEP). This is a voluntary early intervention program for tenants who are having difficulties sustaining their tenancy who may also be facing eviction. STEP assists tenants with issues such as property standards, rent payments or behaviour. Housing does this to offer its tenants some practical assistance to help them and their neighbours enjoy a peaceful and happy tenancy.
Tenants may also qualify for the Hardship Utility Grant Scheme (HUGS), a State Government scheme that provides financial assistance to help people in financial hardship pay their water, gas and electricity bills so their supply is not cut off.
Housing does not employ social workers nor is it expert in dealing with the complex social and personal issues some tenants face. There are other organisations with expertise in these areas that provide these services.
Where tenants are in financial difficulty, and this is affecting their ability to pay rent, Housing will refer tenants to community-based financial counselling for personalised advice. This is provided free of charge, and is not compulsory.
Terminating a tenancy
Termination proceedings are only initiated by the Housing Authority when tenants fail to utilise all the opportunities provided to them to pay outstanding debts, improve behaviour or improve poor property standards.
Where tenants fail to pay arrears, fail to take care of the property or disrupt the lives of their neighbours, the Housing Authority—as a landlord—must take appropriate action in line with the Residential Tenancies Act.
The termination process involves the Housing Authority issuing a breach notice to a tenant requiring them to remedy the breach. Should the tenant fail to rectify the breach within the specified period (generally 14 days), Housing will issue a termination notice which advises tenants that they are required to return the property to the Housing Authority.
Should the tenant fail to relinquish the property (or remedy the initial breach), the Housing Authority may apply to the Magistrates Court to terminate the tenancy agreement.
If the Housing Authority’s application to the Magistrates Court is successful, the court order will stipulate a date when the tenant is required to provide vacant possession of the property.
Should a tenant fail to relinquish a property by that date, Housing must engage a bailiff to evict the tenant; that is, to physically recover the property by removing the occupants and securing the property.
An eviction only occurs when a tenant fails to relinquish the property in accordance with a court order, so the ultimate decision to evict a tenant always rests with a Magistrate.