Max knows all about cleaning up. For decades he worked for the City of Oakleigh, picking up rubbish and helping keep the city clean.
During the 14 years he lived in public housing Max took care to avoid damage to his property. “I treated it like a palace, it was my home and I took a lot of pride in it.”
When he moved out in March Max and his family went through the place with a fine tooth comb, making sure that everything was ready for the next tenant. And, luckily for them, they took a lot of photos as they did so.
“I wasn’t really thinking about saving money on a bill. I never really considered that because I knew that I had looked after the place. I was thinking about the next person who needed somewhere to live and I wanted it to be nice for them.”
Four months after moving out Max was surprised to receive a bill in the mail, demanding payment of almost $2,000 for new carpets, painting, cleaning and rubbish removal.
“It really hit me hard. First off, it’s a lot of money. Then I thought about how unfair it was, they hadn’t even talked with me about what had happened before they sent out the bill.”
Max decided to fight the unfair charges and he went to VCAT today to put forward his case.
“In the end I have to pay $50. And that is only because the movers left behind my outdoor setting that they were supposed to take. The people at VCAT were fantastic.”
“But the system itself needs to be fixed. I don’t feel like there was a stage of the process where a person, rather than a computer, ever considered what was right in the circumstances.”
“The whole thing has caused me a lot of stress. I am also angry that all that money was wasted, so many people spent time on my case, when it never should have happened in the first place.”