Advocating for independent living
Recently, the Northern Rivers Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service (NORTAAS) was able to assist a tenant to maintain her independent living.
The tenant lives in social housing, in a modest three bedroom home where she has lived all her life, in a country town. She has a severe visual impairment, and until recently was cared for by her mother. Sadly, her mother passed away not long ago. Her mother held the tenancy, so when she died, our client was given a six month fixed term agreement, while her eligibility for social housing was assessed. The fixed term moved into a periodic agreement when the landlord had not finished its assessment.
The tenant contacted us for help when the landlord offered her alternate accommodation. The property was a brand new unit and was head leased. The tenant inspected it and raised a number of issues around its unsuitability in relation to her disability. There was no landline – the tenant was only able to use a landline phone; the oven and stove top had a digital display which the tenant could not see; there was a step into the shower which the tenant could not see; the tenant’s appliances – fridge and washing machine which she was familiar with using – would not fit into the premises. The premises also had many large windows which provided light and glare which impacted on the tenant’s limited vision.
The landlord continued to insist that she move to this smaller dwelling and give up the three bedroom home. There are very few social housing properties in the town. NORTAAS advocated on behalf of the tenant and eventually the landlord agreed the new property was unsuitable. The landlord decided the tenant could stay in the family home, and offered her a new fixed term agreement. The tenant was unable to read the agreement so we read it and raised a few points with the landlord. Once these were clarified, we advised the tenant about the new agreement and she was happy to sign it, knowing what her rights and obligations were.
This was a great outcome for the tenant who was able to continue living independently with minimal support.