Finding love increases rent for Mackay couple

Dennis and Julieta Lyons have been told by the Department of Housing their rent will increase all because the couple fell in love and got married.
Dennis and Julieta Lyons have been told by the Department of Housing their rent will increase all because the couple fell in love and got married. Kieran Moran

A BEACONSFIELD couple has been left wondering about their future after being told by the State Government their social housing rent would increase --- just because they tied the knot.

Dennis and Julieta Lyons married in Mackay in December last year. Mrs Lyons was born in the Philippines and is living in Australia on a tourist visa which doesn't allow her to work.

"We met at a party in Mackay in 2013 while Julieta was visiting her sister and we stayed in touch and visited each other and eventually fell in love," Mr Lyons said. "Julieta is currently here on a tourist visa which doesn't allow her to work and it will take another two years for her to get permanent resident status which will allow her to work."

Mr Lyons said he was registered with Centrelink and the Department of Housing as a full-time carer for his son who is 15 years old and has autism and epilepsy. He receives a full-time carer's pension.

"My son requires full time care and attention and because of that I only work on weekends and look after him the rest of the week."

Mr Lyons says that when he married, he registered with both Centrelink and the Department of Housing that Mrs Lyons was living with him. "I believe in doing the right thing so I let them know," he said.

"Centrelink had no issue with Julieta living with me and said my payments would not be affected because she is not a permanent resident and can't work in the country.

"However, when I informed the Department of Housing they queried my status and said because Julieta is over the age of 18 she should be able to have access to the Newstart allowance and my rent will increase."

While Mr Lyons hasn't had any written notice from the department, he has had a number of phone calls.

Over the past 72 hours Mr Lyons has been in discussions with the Department of Housing about the matter who did acknowledge to us there appeared to be an issue.

Mr Lyons claims he explained why his life could not work but says the department would not listen and said "that's the rules" and there would be no variation.

In 2013, the former Queensland Newman Government tightened up and changed legislation for public housing tenants where if a person is staying in the home for an extended period of time and is eligible to work, the cost of rent will increase. "I understand the legislation but it's wrong and needs to be changed," he said. "What I don't understand is why they don't look at specific circumstances or at least have a clause that allows people in this type of situation to plead their case."

Mr Lyons says his family now faces an uncertain future because he doesn't know where he will find the extra money to survive.

"My family is living on a single carer's pension and like many people we are living on a week to week basis," he said. "My main concern is my boy will be going back to school in a few weeks and I'm not sure as to whether I'll be able to afford it."

The Department of Housing couldn't provide comment before deadline.

Topics:  centrelink department of housing love mackay married newstart public housing social housing

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