Assisted by

Kimberley Community Legal Service

In early 2018, June* approached the Kimberley Community Legal Service for help to reconnect the power at her home, which she said had been disconnected because she could not afford to pay the bill in a lump sum from her aged pension.

A KCLS lawyer assisted June to prepare a budget, set up a Centrepay deduction to pay her electricity bill, and receive an emergency relief payment from the Vincent De Paul Society. As a result June had her power reconnected.

At the lawyer’s suggestion, June agreed to work with our Public Tenancy Support Service (PTSS) to learn how to manage her electricity use. The PTSS Advocate met with June in her home, where she lives with her daughter and two granddaughters. June is the primary carer in the house, due to her daughter’s chronic illness.

During the meeting, June explained she had received a letter which she didn’t understand from the Department of Housing. The letter was a breach notice, informing June that she had failed to maintain property standards. Shortly after this, the Department began proceedings to terminate her tenancy.

June explained the property was difficult to clean because it was so old. She had lived there for 18 years, and in that time she said no maintenance work had been done. Even though she didn’t like living there, because she was worried the place wasn’t safe or healthy for her grandchildren, she was desperately worried she was going to lose her home, leaving the family with nowhere to go.

June showed the PTSS Advocate her home, and explained she could use only one bedroom in the property because the other bedrooms had such large holes in the walls. The PTSS Advocate suspected the holes were due to significant internal leaks from the shower.

KCLS engaged an independent builder to review the property and provide a written report. The builder’s professional opinion was that maintenance was required to the property, and in its current condition the property was unsafe.

Despite her fears of the courtroom, June said she wanted to go to trial. However, after receiving the builder’s report, the Department withdrew the application to terminate her tenancy, and agreed to transfer the family to a new property.   

Real names have not been used to respect the confidentiality of clients.