Housing Tasmania has well-defined internal mechanisms for complaint resolution. They have the Independent Housing Review Committee to handle review of decisions. There is no recourse for administrative appeal except for complaint to the State Ombudsman. Their fact sheet ‘Customer Feedback and Review Policy’ highlights that only three circumstances can be the subject of review before the Committee:
- A determination has been made whereby a client is not eligible for the service or benefit for which they have applied
- A client has a complaint about the level or quality of the service, or
- Standards for a service have not been met.
However, there have been incidents of Housing Tasmania denying applicants access to the Independent Housing Review Committee. If you are unhappy with a Housing Tasmania decision, contact the State Ombudsman.
There is no right of review under the Judicial Review Act 2000, to the Supreme Court. In 2012 in King v Director of Housing, the Supreme Court held that the decisions of the Director of Housing to not renew a lease and to serve a ‘notice to vacate’ on a tenant were not of an administrative character. Such a decision would not fall within the circumstance set out above for appeal to the Committee. Due to the decision not to recontract being not of an administrative character, the Judicial Review Act 2000 does not apply to decisions of the Director of Housing or his delegates. Nor were there any obligations for the tenant to be provided with reasons as to the non-renewal of her lease or the service of the ‘notice to vacate’. Nor is there any indication that decisions under the Homes Act 1935, under which the powers of the Director of Housing are created, are open to review under the Magistrates Court (Administrative Appeals Division) Act 2001 before the Magistrates AAD. Decisions of the Director of Housing were held to be more akin to the acts associated with contracting, rather than administrative decisions. The Homes Act 1935 has been amended to contain a provision that states:
27A. Director may refuse to enter into contract, &c.
(1) The Director may refuse –
(a) to enter into a contract for the sale to an eligible person of any land or land and dwelling-house; and
(b) to make an advance to an applicant under this Act.
(2) A decision of the Director under this section is final.
The Tasmanian Ombudsman can hear complaints to do with Public Housing, and the in 2012-2013 year continued complaints regarding ‘the alleged failure of Housing Tasmania to appropriately and effectively manage conflict between its tenants in neighbouring properties. In the 2011-2012 year, the Ombudsman’s Annual Report complaints against Housing Tasmania included ‘charges levied … against outgoing tenants for repairs to property’. The 2010-2011 Annual Report had noted that Housing Tasmania had ‘implemented a three tiered review process’ for unhappy tenants. In the time since, Housing Tasmania has also created ‘Housing Connect’, which is intended to provide information for Housing Tasmania tenants and prospective tenants.