A man who moved to Sydney recently to start a new career
found himself unexpectedly homeless after his landlord locked
him out because of unpaid rent.
Centrelink had agreed to pay Paul’s accommodation costs, using
Rentstart assistance, but then cancelled this arrangement when it discovered the boarding house Paul was staying in was ‘not approved’.
Paul was unable to pay his rent and his landlord locked him
out. The landlord said he intended to keep Paul’s belongings until the
outstanding rent was paid.
Wearing the only clothes that he had, Paul sought help from
a Homeless Persons’ Legal Service (HPLS) lawyer at the Newtown Mission.
The HPLS lawyer agreed the best course of action was to
write a letter to the landlord demanding he return Paul’s possessions.
The HPLS lawyer advised Paul to take this letter to the
police and ask them to go to the boarding house with him. With letter in hand,
Paul left the HPLS clinic after a 20-minute consultation.
One week later, Paul again contacted HPLS. This time it was
to say that he had followed the HPLS advice and was back in possession of his belongings.
It may seem a minor victory in the overwhelming face of
homelessness and social disadvantage, but Paul’s story highlights the fact
that, sometimes, the small effort of providing advice and assistance has a big
impact on a person’s life.
Paul’s experience is common among people who are living in
boarding houses and shared housing.
If you know of someone in a similar situation, free legal assistance is
available at any of the HPLS clinics across Sydney.