Words by: Molly Schmidt
Kenwick pensioners Gordon and Patricia Weir have been evicted from their Department of Housing home after a long legal battle.
The couple, who have lived in their Kenwick home for nearly 24 years, say they have done nothing wrong, but have been in a constant tug of war with the Department of Housing over structural problems at the home, which was purpose-built for Mrs Weir’s special needs. Mr Weir said the house was built on the wrong foundations, and he and his wife offered to pay for the cost of fixing the home themselves. They have raised five children and already spent $40 000 on the house, which Mr Weir said they always intended to buy.
“It was everything, absolutely everything. This was designed by us to be our home for the rest of our lives,” he said.
Magistrates have approved the eviction.
Mrs Weir, who suffers from spina bifida, said they had been model tenants over the years and felt they were being punished for simply standing up to the department. The department have offered the couple an alternative home in the choice of two Cloverdale homes at the end of the Perth Airport Runway. The Weirs feel this option is unacceptable, and does not compare to their well-loved long-term home in a quiet cul-de-sac in Kenwick. After losing the battle in court, Mr and Mrs Weir said they were given one weekend to find a home to buy privately and settled on one that needed modifications. Mrs Weir said the department refused to give them extra time.
Department general manager service delivery Greg Cash said the couple did not co-operate when it came to allowing department access for maintenance, which led to further deterioration of the house. However, Mr Weir claims the only time they denied the department access was when Mrs Weir was recovering from a broken leg.
Mr Cash said extensive efforts had been made over the years to try to maintain the property, and due to the Weirs’ ongoing refusal to engage, the tenancy was terminated. He said he believed the Cloverdale housing would be appropriate for their needs. The property will be demolished and remain that way because of issues with the clay soil, Mr Cash said. According to Mr Cash, the couple were given 60 days notice to vacate, which was then extended by two weeks. The department offered to sell the property to the Weir’s but Mr Weir said because structural problems had not been fixed they could not get finance.
The Weirs’ lawyer John Hammond said the whole thing is “straight out of The Castle” and shows a lack of respect for the Weirs’ genuine attachment to their home. He accused the department of being inflexible and unfair. The department has taken legal action to get the Weirs’ to return the keys to the soon-to-be demolished home.