Obtaining information from the Director of Housing
Last updated: 29 Mar 2021
You will need to get a copy of all the relevant documents in relation to the debt from the Director of Housing (DOH), including any Tribunal orders made, evidence of the debt (known as summary of proofs eg, photos, condition reports), rental ledgers (for rental arrears) and any other related documents.
You should also get information from the DOH about:
What happened to any goods left behind if the property was vacated. This is important as it can be used in negotiations to reduce the debt if the DOH did not follow its own policies and the provisions in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) in relation to goods left behind.
Whether the client is on the waiting list and if so, in what category.
How to contact the DOH
You can contact the DOH through the local housing office closest to the address of the property. Each office administers public housing properties within its local area.
In Homeless Law’s experience, the ease of accessing information on a client’s file varies significantly by office, as well as the age of the file (e.g. information regarding some former tenancies is likely to be stored in offsite archives). In some situations, it may be necessary to contact the Vacated Tenancy Team who can provide certain information fairly rapidly, but may not be able to provide some of the evidence (such as photographs/condition reports).
If you are unable to get the information you need, you may need to make a Freedom of Information request.
Making a Freedom of Information request
In the event you cannot obtain the information you need through requesting it informally, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request can be made by post or online. Find details on how to apply and download the application form on the Department website.
Details to be included with a Freedom of Information Act request
An FOI request must be accompanied by sufficient information about the required document(s) as is reasonably necessary to allow it to be identified (s 17(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Vic)) (FOI Act) states:
In practice, the following information should be included in the Request Details section of an application made to the Department:
I [name] of [organisation] request on behalf of our client [Client name & DOB] the following Director of Housing records concerning her [current/former tenancies] at [address(es)];
You will also need to include proof of identity documents for the client.
If insufficient information is provided at first instance, an FOI Officer will contact you (typically within a week) to clarify your request (s 17(4) FOI Act).
The Department FOI Unit can be contacted on (03) 9096 8449 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generally, an FOI request will attract an application fee of $29.60 and additional access fees. However, the Department may grant a fee waiver if the applicant provides a statement detailing how the application fee would cause hardship. Download the hardship form on the Department website.