Rent Management Policy
The purpose of this Policy is to provide an overview of how CHC calculates rent, undertakes rent reviews and manages rent payments. The policy also outlines tenants’ responsibilities to ensure accurate and timely information is provided for the purpose of rent reviews
2. Policy Statement
Community Housing Corner rents are affordable so that our properties remain accessible to people in financial housing stress. The rents can be sustained by people on very low, low and moderate incomes regardless of a property’s market value.
3. Policy Principles
- Our rents are fair and the way they are calculated is consistent, non-discriminatory and in line with NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines and the NSW Community Housing Rent Policy
- CHC uses market rent as a starting point for rent subsidy calculations and it is market rent that appears in the tenancy agreement
- Market rent for capital properties is based on the NSW Rent and Sales Report prepared by the NSW Family and Community Services – Housing NSW. They calculate market rent as the median rent for a property of the same type and bedroom size in the relevant Local Government Area
- Market rent on leased properties is based on the market rent charged to Community Housing Corner by the landlord
- CHC updates market rents on capital properties annually
- Tenant households on very low or low incomes do not pay more than 25%-30% of their gross income in rent
- Tenant households on moderate incomes do not pay more than 30% of their gross income in rent
- As far as is possible, we set rent levels to maximise Commonwealth Rent Assistance and take advantage of the Australian Taxation Office rulings on GST supply
- For tenants who have a fixed term tenancy agreement with CHC, the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 states that an eligibility assessment cannot be carried out any earlier than 6 months before the end of the fixed term. As our rent reviews are usually conducted as part of the eligibility review, the same requirement applies to rent reviews for tenants on a fixed term tenancy agreement
5. Related legislation and documentation
- Residential Tenancies Act 2010
- NSW Community Housing Rent Policy – Family and Community Services October 2018
- NSW Affordable Housing Ministerial Guidelines 2017-18
2 The rent to household income ratio is defined as rent net of Commonwealth Rent Assistance
- We undertake our rent reviews in line with the requirements of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and where applicable, with the Australian Government National Rental Affordability Scheme Policy Guidelines
- Our rent reviews are also fair and consistent between clients. Rent review processes take account of individual tenant disadvantage without compromising consistency
- CHC maintains a balance between our commitment to ensuring affordable rents for our tenants and ensuring the financial viability of CHC
- We notify tenants in writing of any changes to their assessed rent, explaining reasons and providing a copy of the rental assessment
- CHC tenants are entitled to appeal the calculation or cancellation of a rental subsidy as a result of a rent review – see Appeals under Procedures
4.1 For Community Housing Corner
Calculating Rent / Rental subsidies
CHC calculates the amount of rent to be charged to the tenant on the assessed income of the tenant and all residents living in the household.
The FACS Community Housing Rent Policy details what constitutes assessable income. The sources of income to be included in the assessment are listed under 4.2 of this Procedure.
Simply put, rents are calculated in the following way:
The discount to market rent must be at least 20% ( to comply with the commonwealth NRAS Policy and Guidelines)
Each year CHC will conduct a rent review of the market rent and adjust rent accordingly. Rent increase will be done in accordance to the residential tenancy act .
Calculating rent when a tenant’s income is inconsistent
Where a tenant’s income fluctuates, resulting in consistent changes in their rent assessment, CHC can average the tenant’s income over a 3 or 6 month period for the purposes of rent assessment.
Managing rental subsidy fraud or non-disclosure
Rental subsidy fraud occurs when a tenant deliberately makes a false, incomplete or misleading statement about the income or assets of themselves or other members of their household. This includes failing to notify CHC of any changes to their household circumstances.
Rental subsidy non-disclosure occurs when a tenant has failed to notify CHC of any change to their household circumstances, but has not done so deliberately.
- If CHC receives information that a tenant is receiving a rental subsidy that they may not be entitled to, we are required to investigate to determine if:
- Rental subsidy fraud has occurred OR
- Rental subsidy non-disclosure has occurred OR
- The information was incorrect and the tenant is entitled to the rental subsidy
- If rental subsidy fraud or non-disclosure is proven, CHC has the following options:
- Cancellation or adjustment of the rental rebate – this may be backdated and the debt placed on the tenant’s rental account
- In cases of serious and deliberate fraud, to take formal action to terminate the tenancy
- If the fraud is of a criminal nature, refer the details to NSW Police.
- Tenants must ensure that all occupants of their CHC accommodation have been approved by CHC and are paying rent. If a household member is not approved by CHC, tenants may appeal this decision
- If a tenant’s appeal to CHC is successful, the rent due because of the additional household member will be backdated to the date the additional household member’s occupancy commenced
- If a tenant’s appeal to CHC is unsuccessful and the person continues to live at the address, CHC will apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to take action against the tenancy for having unapproved occupants residing in the property
- The same applies if the tenant does not appeal CHC’s non-approval of the additional household member and the person continues to live at the address – CHC will exercise its right to apply to NCAT for orders.
Managing rental arrears
If a CHC tenant falls into rental arrears, CHC will take steps to reach agreement with the tenant on recovery of the arrears, including the development of a repayment plan.
CHC is committed to achieving sustainable tenancies and in dealing with the issue of arrears, will adopt a sensitive attitude to any financial difficulties which the tenant may be experiencing, with a view to maintaining the tenancy. If appropriate, the tenant will be referred to a financial counsellor for support and advice.
If the tenant is not amenable to CHC’s attempts to reach an agreement or make a referral to a support service, then they should be advised that CHC will apply to NCAT for orders that the tenant vacate the accommodation.
4.2 For CHC Tenants
Providing proof of income
- Each tenant is responsible for collecting the income details of household members and providing these details to CHC so that their rent can be assessed prior to their tenancy commencing and at rent review time
- When applying for subsidised rent to live in CHC accommodation, potential and existing tenants must declare all assessable income and provide proof of the amount of income received by their spouse / partner and each other member of their household who is aged 18 years or over. Proof of income must be original and can be:
- provided through the Income Certification Scheme for Centrelink pensions and allows
- an income statement from Centrelink
- an income statement from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs
- a payslip, letter or statement from an employer, detailing gross wage, applicable tax, deductions, the pay period, and payee details for salary or wages
- for self employed tenants, profit and loss statement completed by an accountant or a taxation return
- a letter or statement from an overseas government detailing the amount received
- a letter or statement from an investment organisation detailing savings / investments etc providing the amount or dividend received
- a letter from another organisation or income provider not listed above, detailing the amount and type of income received
- If a tenant reports no income, CHC will base its calculations on the statutory payments that the tenant is entitled to, according to their age and household composition, unless they can demonstrate exceptional circumstances.
Rent reviews – failure to provide proof of income and an application for rent subsidy by due date
- Every six months (generally, there may be exceptions) CHC conducts rent reviews. Tenants are requested to provide household income details and complete an application for rent subsidy form by a certain date, to enable the rent review to proceed. The letter requesting the information is sent 60 days prior to a rent increase.
- In cases where the tenant has not provided the requested information, weekly reminders will be sent for 6 weeks after the information was due and each reminder will highlight the date that market rent will commence. Each reminder letter will also issue an invitation to the tenant to either phone their property manager or make an appointment to meet in person to discuss the reason for not providing the information. It may be as simple as a tenant having been on holidays and unaware of CHC’s correspondence.
- Tenants who fail to supply their income details and application for rent subsidy within 6 weeks of the due date will be deemed ineligible for rent subsidy and will be required to pay market rent from a date nominated by CHC.
- A decision about whether the subsidy will be backdated for subsequently presented income details and rental subsidy applications will be made based on a tenant’s individual circumstances.
Gathering rent review information relating to vulnerable tenants
If a tenant is identified as vulnerable and has no support from friends or family, CHC will consider their situation individually. It may be that a tenant has difficulty providing the necessary documentation for the rent review process, so as an interim measure, CHC could make a calculation based on financial information previously provided.
As a permanent solution, and to ensure the tenant’s rental subsidy calculations are fair and accurate, official permission will need to be sought by CHC to gather the necessary information on the tenant’s behalf.
Appealing a rental subsidy decision
- Tenants may appeal against a decision made by CHC in relation to the calculation, backdating or cancellation of a rental subsidy by submitting a request for a review in writing and detailing their reasons for requesting a review. An appeal will be considered up until the next rent review period
- If a tenant is dissatisfied with the outcome of an appeal to CHC they may lodge a second level appeal to the Housing Appeals Committee. The Committee is an independent agency that reviews certain decisions made by staff of Community Housing organisations and Housing NSW. They can be contacted on 1800 629 794.
If a tenant is being investigated for rent subsidy fraud or rent subsidy non-disclosure
- Have an impartial interview with CHC
- Have a support person of their choice present at interviews
- Have an interpreter if required
- Expect that in most cases, CHC will advise the tenant of the information / evidence has obtained (but not the identity of the person making an allegation)
- Expect to receive a letter recording the findings of the interview and advising them of their right to appeal. Tenants have the opportunity to read and check that CHC has provided an accurate account of the interview
- Expect to receive a final determination in writing.