Ombudsman investigates Office of Housing management of maintenance debts

 
Wednesday 10 August 2016
 
The Victorian Ombudsman has commenced an ‘own motion’ investigation into the Office of Housing’s processes for determining and pursuing maintenance debts against public housing tenants, reflecting a number of complaints on the issue and wider community concern.
 
The investigation will examine how the Office of Housing (OoH) raises and pursues  debts against current and former tenants particularly where there is evidence to suggest the tenant is not entirely liable for the works carried out.
 
An example of the kind of matter the investigation will examine is unlawful damage caused by third parties or where maintenance and repair charges are imposed without allowing for fair wear and tear.
 
The investigation will look at issues including:
  • OoH policy and procedures for dealing with maintenance debts arising from vacated OoH properties
  • Whether the policy and procedures for dealing with these debts are consistent with  actual practice
  • Whether OoH is meeting its obligations as a model litigant when dealing with such breaches and associated debts.
 
A key focus of the investigation will be the use of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) by OoH to arbitrate these matters.
 
VCAT data shows that over the financial years 2012/13 and 2014/15 the OoH was the second largest litigant in tenant disputes. Such OoH matters comprised approximately 20 per cent of the VCAT Residential Tenancies List in each of those years, equating to between 12,000 and 14,000 VCAT referrals.
 
The Victorian Ombudsman welcomes submissions from the public and relevant organisations that meet the circumstances as outlined above.
 
Submissions can be made at: housinginvestigation@ombudsman.vic.gov.au or by calling 03 9613 6222 or (Regional) 1800 806 314
 
Deborah Glass is not available for interview.  
 
Media contact: Rory Cahill Tel 03 9613 6235 | Mob 0409 936 235  rory.cahill@ombudsman.vic.gov.au
 
Further information: Tel 03 9613 6222 | Regional 1800 806 314 ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au | Follow @VicOmbudsman