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Sunday, 9 October 2011

HOMESLESS SCAMS

I had a guy ring me up in June with the help of a welfare organisation claiming to be homeless and desparately needing crisis accommodation for him and his dog he said, as no one else would take him in with his pet and he was sleeping in a very cold car. One can never know the truth in these situations as too many are streetwise and not very truthful.  It was winter and getting cold, so i did a deal with him of lower rent if he did some specific work around the bungalow to make it liveable before he moved in. He agreed but moved in without doing the work he had agreed to do as I found out later from my caretaker, and that someone else had done the work instead. He did not have any money when he moved in but he applied for and did obtain a two weeks rental grant from a local welfare group which took several weeks to be paid to us and by moving into rental he also became entitled to rent assistance offered by the federal government of $117 pf.
My electricity bill excallated sunstantially during his stay as we found several unauthorised heaters in the bungalow when he left recently to live in his car as the weather is nicer now and not bitterly cold and he intended to move to Byron Bay for the summer.  Other questions arose as to why he was needing so many heaters and weed growing comes to mind and might explain the part of the higher electricity bill during his stay. He left and we did not refund him the discount offered for the work he had agreed to do originally. He was ok with that for a couple weeks and then he suddenly needed money and started to threaten various action to recover what he felt should be returned to him. As often happens people move out without advising Centrelink that they are not entitled to get the rental assistance and mail continues to arrive at our address and I'm starting to think that i should continue to charge a rent for mail services until they officially leave. We do advise Centrelink on a periodical basis of who lives at our premises but despite me returning letters to centrelink they rarely act on the returned mail with mail arriving for several months after the original RTS mail, and I'm sure that many streetwise tenants get away with plenty of rent assistance money they not entitled to.

In one case in Dandenong there where 18 people registered to receive both rent and rent assistance when only 3 people officially lived there in a two bedroom unit. It took Centrelink quite awhile before they rang us so we could confirm who was really living there. We now are more regularly in contact with Centrelink Fraud department to reconcile residents.
Its also not unusual these days to have people claiming to be 'homeless' going to the local welfare agencies for a free two weeks stay rather than going to a motel for two weeks and paying motel rates. After two weeks they just leave without telling anyone that they moving on and so other genuine homeless requiring crisis accomodation miss out on an empty room while we to try work out whether the scammer has gone missing or really left.  It disgusting that these streetwise people are abusing the system meant for the genuine people, so recently we have had to change our no bond policy to require a bond which if genuine they can get from various sources and the money goes to the appropriate body under the regulations. This new policy has been met well by the welfare agencies and we have also been able to offer a lower no frills room rental for compliant and genuine people.Some of the drug affected applicants in previous years would also think they could organise accomodation paid for by the welfare agencies and then leave within days and then demand a refund to them which we could not comply with and this would cause all manner of threats of going to the media, ACA, and bad press and spreading malicious rumours if they did not get their 'refund', Luckily in many cases we had not yet received the cheques for several weeks anyway .....and we would just cancel the unused portion of the rent.  This is just one scheme which even Social Workers become unknowingly invloved in by calling the rooming house operator to be a rogue for not helping to launder welfare funds for some of druggie clients. It just not on and we will never be a party to it.

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