Jasmine & Lucy's stories - using housing policy to achieve results

Using housing policy to achieve results 

Jasmine and Lucy had the same problem when we met them. Both needed their ex-husband’s name removed from their lease agreements. Otherwise they’d be assessed to pay rent on the basis of a dual income, making it unaffordable on a single wage and putting them at risk of falling into arrears.

Jasmine’s local housing office was within IMCL’s catchment and we knew the staff well. Lucy’s local housing office was beyond our catchment and we were unfamiliar with the workers.

Both housing offices initially told us that they were unable to discount the rental amount while the ex-husband’s name remained on the lease and that we should apply to VCAT. We knew that in the meantime Jasmine and Lucy would have to pay an amount of rent they simply couldn’t afford.

We argued that under the existing overarching housing policy the womens’ rent could be reduced without removing their ex-husbands’ names from the leases. In Jasmine’s case, the local housing office manager accepted this and agreed to enter into a new lease in Jasmine’s name only and to backdate the rent from when her ex-husband left.

However, Lucy’s housing office refused to do either, forcing her to go to the tribunal to achieve the same result. 

As a result of these cases, the Housing Appeals Office has undertaken to reword the policy to make it clear that whilst it is necessary to apply to VCAT in order to have a tenant’s name removed, a temporary rebate can be secured until an order is made. This protects people from the risk of eviction because they can’t pay the rent for a reason they can’t control.

You can find out more about our tenancy advocacy here: http://bit.ly/2jpII2n.