Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT wants a review of the rental system operating in remote communities, following media revelations that residents in Santa Teresa owe more than $1 million in unpaid rent in circumstances likely to be replicated in remote communities across the Territory.
Santa Teresa is located near Alice Springs.
On Monday, the Supreme Court heard that the Department of Housing’s collection of rent under its Remote Rent Framework left unwitting Santa Teresa tenants with staggering rental debts.
A total of 70 tenants from the remote community first commenced legal action against the Department in the Northern Territory Civil Administrative Tribunal (NTCAT) more than 18 months ago, seeking over 600 repairs to their housing.
In response, the Department counter-sued for unpaid rent, despite tenants never having been notified that they were in arrears. Documents obtained by lawyers for the tenants under the Information Act, show rental debts average more than $20,000 per household, and the community’s collective debt runs into the millions.