Public Housing Neighbourhood Disputes

Contributed by Anahita Surya and current to March 2022

How do I make a complaint?

If you live in public housing property and have a conflict with a neighbour also living in public housing, you can seek to resolve the dispute by contacting Housing ACT. As your landlord, Housing ACT must not cause or permit any interference with what is called your ‘quiet enjoyment’ - that is, your reasonable peace, comfort or privacy in using your home. Similarly, all tenants have an obligation not to interfere or permit any interference with the quiet enjoyment of their neighbours. Once you complain to Housing ACT, it can take action against your neighbour on the basis that they are in breach of that obligation.

If you believe that Housing ACT is failing to carry out its obligation not to permit any interference with your quiet enjoyment, you can apply to the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal (ACAT) by lodging an Application for Resolution of a Tenancy Dispute. You can seek an order that Housing ACT carry out its obligation. More information on the ACAT process can be found on the ACAT website.

What do I do if my neighbour has made a complaint about me?

If Housing ACT believes you have interfered with the quiet enjoyment of your neighbour, it can decide to seek your eviction for breaching your tenancy agreement. Usually Housing ACT must first give you a Notice to Remedy, telling you what the breach is and giving you 14 days to fix the problem. After the 14 days have passed, Housing ACT can give you a 14 day Notice to Vacate if the problem has not been fixed. If you do not vacate, Housing ACT can then apply to ACAT for eviction orders.

Sometimes, instead of seeking your eviction, Housing ACT may decide to apply for orders under s 83 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (ACT) either stopping an action in breach of your tenancy agreement or requiring that you perform an obligation under your tenancy agreement. It is important to get legal advice before agreeing to any proposed orders because a breach of the Tribunal orders may lead to your eviction. Refer to Canberra Community Law’s Neighbourhood Disputes and Public Housing factsheet for more info.

To talk to someone about your dispute, contact the Legal Aid ACT Helpline (8:30am to 7pm Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm on Friday) on 1300 654 314.

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