Victory for Kapitbahayan Tenant

September 27th, 2010 · No Comments

The once seemingly quiet Kapitbahayan Cooperative has recently been rocked by disputes.   

Dolores Amarille, a tenant of the Kapitbahayan Cooperative recently got her eviction notice overturned winning over Ruben Amores, President of Kapitbahayan Cooperative. 

Amarille was served with an eviction notice on 15 June 2010 and was required to leave the premises by 12 July 2010. Reasons cited on the eviction notice included installation of a TFC antenna without permission; arrears (of allegedly two week only); and “not fit to be a resident of Kapitbahayan Cooperative, etc. etc.”  

The reasons cited in the notice were weak and had no grounds for removal. Thus,  Mrs. Amarille remained unmoved and stayed passed the due date and Mr. Amores took the case to the Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT).  At the conciliation hearing last 2 August 2010, Mrs. Amarille won and was allowed to stay.  She was only required to pay her one week of back rent and Mr. Amores no longer pursued the other issues he previously cited on the original complaint.

This is not the first time, Amarille and Amores have faced each other in court.  Exactly a year prior to her eviction notice, in 2009, Mrs. Amarille was also given notice of suspension of her membership citing the same reasons previously stated above.  Armed with a mountain of evidentiary documents, Amarille took Amores to the Community Justice Center.  The issues were settled in November 2009.  Her membership suspension was found to be unconstitutional and deemed null and void.  The court further instructed Mr. Amores to reply to correspondence by mail.

However, failing to oust her the first time, Amores attempted again with an eviction notice on the same grounds which had been settled previously.  “He can’t do that,” said Mrs. Amarille.  “I can’t understand why their advertising for new tenants and then they’re kicking my family out,” she added.

Now that it has finally been put to rest the Amarilles hope that they would be left to live as neightbours peacefully and harmoniously.  “Baka mag-hanap na naman siya ng ibang butas but we hope we can be left to live in peace” said Mrs. Amarille.

The Kapitbahayan Cooperative was a Department of Housing initiative in 1993 and was established to provide affordable community housing.  Aida Morden, then working as a Settlement Officer for the Department of Housing joined forces with social worker, Emily Ripinski and together they laid  the foundation for the housing cooperative, now known as Kapitbahayan.  Government training was provided for operations. As mandated by the cooperative by-laws, executive and administrative powers are vested upon the members/tenants themselves who vote for their board of directors and their chairman, or as in this case Ruben Amores, assumed the title of President. 

Kapitbahayan remains autonomous in all its affairs until the recent establishment of Common Equity NSW which now has jurisdiction over all community housing cooperatives.  Common Equity NSW was established for the “consolidation and growth of cooperative social and affordable housing in NSW.”  Mr. Ian Sinnett, CEO was unavailable for comment. Whilst previously Kapitbahayan managed 100% of its funds, it now is obliged to remit 65% of its revenue to Common Equity and 35% remain on the Cooperative’s coffers for maintenance.  

Disputes among tenants are encouraged to be settled internally.  However in stand-off situations where no amicable resolutions can be achieved, either party may bring the case to the Consumer Trade and Tenants Tribunal (CTTT).  “People should not be scared to seek justice.  Others have been ousted in the past because they failed to fight for their rights,” says Mrs. Amarille.

Mrs. Amarille, a tenant since 2003, alleges that her persistent questioning on transparency has perhaps taken on a personal turn resulting to her eviction notice. “They don’t like to be questioned and it has affected my standing as a tenant” she said.  

Attempts to contact Mr. Amores for comment have been futile.

Kapitbahayan currently has eleven properties, six  town houses in Auburn, one of which is the Amores’ residence; two in Berala and three in Pendle Hill.

Kapitbahayan has recently published a press release calling for new members/tenants for future properties at Canley Vale and at Granvile/Merrylands.

Under the government’s national affordable rental scheme, Kapitbahayan was provided additional funds for future housing projects to benefit the community.  However, both future sites at Canley Vale and Granville/Merrylands remain untouched although 30 new members/tenants have responded to the news release.  As Mr. Amores has been unavailable for comment, no status can be given on the project.  It would however be misleading to advertise for something that still does not exist or may not exist.

Amarille’s win over Amores is a victory for all tenants to stand up for their rights.

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