Housing Minister Michael Ferguson says he would not support the introduction of an independent social housing regulator, with the Tasmanian Tenants' Union now calling for such a body to improve tenants rights.
A statutory regulator could respond independently to complaints, for both Housing Tasmania and community housing tenants, but also issues such as inequity for tenants, and provide minimum standards for housing properties, where every home must have adequate heating, blinds and be free of mould.
An independent review in Victoria recently proposed a statutory social housing regulator to oversee service delivery and asset management standards across all public and community housing, with the aim to increase transparency and accountability across the system.
READ MORE: Warning over scam COVID-19 text message
Mr Ferguson ruled out the suggestion, saying that the administration of social housing has always been conducted independently of political interference in housing outcomes.
"It should be noted that the cross-party Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into Housing last year made 61 recommendations in relation to public and social housing in Tasmania and not one called for the establishment of an independent regulator for public housing," Mr Ferguson said.
"The government does not support the establishment of another expensive bureaucracy when there is no established need or demand for such an entity."
Tenants' Union of Tasmania principal solicitor Ben Bartl said there was a definite move towards more not-for-profit community housing, which necessitated a need for independent regulation.
"There is no independent review body for community housing providers ... so roughly 7500 tenants across Tasmania don't have a transparent right of review with a third party, and that is really important," Mr Bartl said.
"By having a social housing regulator we are ensuring there is more transparency and more accountability."
Mr Bartl said the regulator could also be an advocate for minimum housing standards.
"I don't just see the role as a complaints mechanism, that is just part of their role. It would also be advocating for greater social housing stock, and of course, greater improvements in existing stock. Advocating for improved minimum standards, things like heat pumps, air conditioners, double glazed windows, carpets and window blinds," he said.
"To have a statutory body, like the Ombudsmen or the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, which can advocate for social housing tenants, is a good thing."
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Follow us on Google News: The Examiner
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.