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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 37, Number 5. 3rd April 1974

Police & Landlords get Heavy

Police & Landlords get Heavy

Landlords are getting tough. Last Thursday one threatened to kick one of his tenants in the face if she didn't stop swearing at him.

His words might be excusable, you may think, in the heat of an argument. But the landlord had just threatened to set fire to the girl's gear if she didn't get out of his house immediately, so her swearing was more excusable. It was a blatant case of a landlord bullying and provoking powerless tenants.

The three tenants had been living peacefully in their Devon Street flat. Their rent had been paid on time, every Thursday up until last Thursday, when the landlords wife came around to collect it. But she came in the morning instead of the usual time at night, and the tenants didn't have the money ready. They said to come back later, but this wasn't good enough.

The landlord and his wife objected to the girls having friends to stay. They gave them instant notice ( quite illegal—one month's notice must be given unless there is a written agreement stating otherwise) and called the police to help with the eviction.

The police came to help all right, and threw in their own harassment as well. The tenants were interrogated, asked if they had jobs; why they weren't at work, how much money they had on them, and were threatened with arrest for being idle and disorderly (which they weren't).

So the tenants' gear went out on the street. If they had known their rights, they and their gear would have stayed in the flat and neither the landlord nor the police could have legally evicted them.

TPA was called into the picture too late, after the tenants had been expelled. TPA told them they were legally entitled to return, but the tenants by that stage were afraid of the police.

Dennis O'Reilly, TPA organiser, said that one of the most distressing aspects of the case apart from the landlord's threats of brutality, was the police involvement. It was a civil matter between landlord and tenant, said Dennis, and the police should have had no part of it.

Except maybe they should have arrested the landlord.

Cappicade will soon be here. Make money by selling it. Leave names at Studass Office.