Victoria’s DHHS slammed for ‘inept management’ after ombudsman investigates public housing

Victorian public housing tenants are being charged thousands of dollars for damage to properties that they may not have caused, the state’s ombudsman has found.

An investigation into the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also found “inept management” was causing public resources to be wasted.

Ombudsman Deborah Glass found the department:

  • tried to make former tenants pay for “fair wear and tear” and depreciation as well as damage to properties
  • failed to negotiate with former tenants
  • failed to consider instances where property damage was caused by others, such as in family violence situations or by third parties
  • pursued claims against people who could never afford to pay them
  • sent claims to tenants’ old addresses even though the department knew they had moved house

The ombudsman started an investigation after it was told Housing Victoria, a division of the department, was pursuing a woman fleeing domestic violence for $20,000 in maintenance and repairs.

Ms Glass said the department tried charging the woman for the cost of replacing items like smoke alarms, ceiling exhaust fans, light switches and the property’s letterbox.

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