Mary's story - assisting Mary to secure stable housing

Helping Mary retain her public housing tenancy

Mary had been living in a public housing property for over 25 years with her mother, Pina.

For many years Mary had been the primary carer for her mother, whilst dealing with her own mental health issues for which she was receiving assistance from a range of local services.

While the Department of Housing knew that Mary had been living there since she was 14 and that she was paying rent, she was not on the lease and therefore considered a resident rather than a tenant. This wasn’t a problem for Mary until mid-2016, when Mary’s mother fell seriously ill and was moved into a nursing home. As a result, Mary was told that she would need to move out as the lease would be ending with the departure of her mother. 

This was extremely distressing and destabilising for Mary, undermining her efforts to properly manage her mental wellbeing. Taking away her home meant taking away everything she had ever known.

The Department of Housing initially told Mary there was nothing they could do as she was only a resident and did not have tenancy rights to the property. Mary was referred by the Department of Housing to a housing support service, Wombat Housing, and her case manager then referred her to IMCL.

We used the law and assisted Mary to apply for a transfer of the tenancy into her name. We explained her connection to the property and community, and pointed to her rights under the Charter of Humans Rights and Responsibilities to have her familial connections protected. Eventually the Department of Housing agreed with our submissions and agreed to transfer the tenancy into Mary’s name.

Certainty around her housing status was a huge relief for Mary. With this stability, she was able to maintain her links to her community. She felt safe, secure and supported again.