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1. Purpose

Complaints, issues and appeals are managed in a variety of ways across the social housing sector. The purpose of this Framework is to articulate how to raise a concern, where to raise it and what to do if a concern needs to be escalated.

This Framework provides:

  1. Information on the purpose of the Framework.
  2. Background information about community housing and social housing landlord responsibilities.
  3. Information on the role and functions of community housing providers.
  4. Information on the community housing regulatory system.
  5. Information on the Community Housing Division – its role in Housing NSW and with the Registrar of Community Housing.
  6. The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate’s guiding principles on Community Housing Complaints Management.
  7. Direction in relation to resolving a concern that relates to a community housing related issue, complaint or appeal.

Various fact sheets and a Complaints, Issues and Appeals Management Referral Map have been produced to assist individuals, advocates and organisations to navigate the complaint and appeals management options. These tools are accessible by clicking on the links in this Framework.

2. Background

Community housing is a part of the social housing system. Community housing is one of the three ways social housing is provided in NSW, the others are ‘public housing’ and ‘Aboriginal housing’.

A landlord is a person/organisation who leases land or buildings to a tenant. In the context of social housing, the following outlines the ‘landlord’ arrangements.

Type of housingLandlord
1. Public housing Housing NSW
2. Community housing Community Housing Providers
3. Aboriginal housing Aboriginal Community Housing Providers or Housing NSW (on behalf of the Aboriginal Housing Office)

This Framework focuses on the community housing sector (Type 2 above).

3. The role  and functions of community housing providers

Community housing providers (which can be referred to as community housing organisations or a type of social housing provider) are either non-government (eg. housing associations, housing co-operatives or faith based organisations) or local government organisations that are independent of NSW government.

Registered community housing providers may receive assistance under arrangements with Housing NSW to provide affordable rental housing to people on low to moderate incomes, and people with special needs. For the purpose of explaining community housing complaints management, this Framework will refer to all of these types of organisations as ‘community housing providers’.

A community housing provider, as a landlord, is responsible for all tenancy management issues.

Community housing providers are responsible for meeting obligations under the Residential Tenancies Agreement. Community housing providers manage their tenancies and client entitlements in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and their own individual policies. Part of a community housing provider’s role is to deal with complaints and appeals in relation to community housing under the organisation’s management.

Functions of community housing providers

Community housing providers are involved in an extensive range of business and related functions. In terms of tenancy, property and applicant/access management, providers will be involved in activities such as:

  • maintaining waiting lists and making allocations
  • administering tenancy agreements
  • advice and assistance and general service management
  • bond administration
  • rent setting and collection
  • ending tenancies and tribunal appearances
  • establishing referral and support links and agreements
  • managing disputes and grievances
  • access and applications management
  • asset management (eg. responsive maintenance, cyclical maintenance)

4. The community housing regulatory system

A new regulatory system commenced on 1 May 2009. Under the Housing Act 2001 (NSW) a community housing provider must be registered to receive assistance from Housing NSW. The Registrar of Community Housing is a statutory appointment under Part 9A of the Housing Act 2001 (NSW). The Registrar reports directly to the Minister for Family and Community Services and registers community housing providers independently of Housing NSW.

To achieve registration a community housing provider must satisfy the Registrar of Community Housing that they have complied with the requirements of the Regulatory Code for community housing providers. Among other requirements, community housing providers must make information about internal complaints and appeals processes accessible to community housing clients.

The Regulatory Code has eight performance areas and community housing providers must meet requirements for each performance area. The Registrar investigates complaints that raise concerns about a registered community housing provider’s compliance with the Regulatory Code. The Registrar does not have a role in investigating individual tenancy or applicant related complaints.

5. The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate

The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate (CAPMH), a Directorate of Housing NSW, Department of Family and Community Services, is the primary contract and relationship manager for community housing providers in NSW. CAPMH is responsible for setting strategy and policy for developing, funding and monitoring community housing. CAPMH does not have a role in investigating individual tenancy, applicant or access related complaints. Individuals who direct complaints of this nature to CAPMH are advised to contact the relevant community housing provider.

Relationship - Registrar of Community Housing and the Community Housing Division

While the direct reporting line from the Registrar to the Minister guarantees the Registrar’s independence, the Registrar’s Office operates as a business unit of Housing NSW and as such receives support in areas such as accounting, information technology and legal services. The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate is a business unit of Housing NSW, retains the primary responsibility for contract and performance management of the community housing sector.

6. Community Housing Complaints Management

Community & Private Market Housing Directorate - Guiding Principles
  • Entitlement - clients of community housing, members of the public or organisations have a right to complain about an issue relating to community housing and have that complaint examined by the appropriate authority.
  • Early intervention - The first step to any complaint resolution is for the matter to be raised as soon as possible with the organisation/person which/who has made the decision or provided the service.
  • Responsibility - Community housing providers are responsible for managing the tenancies of community housing tenants in accordance with the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 and their own individual policies. Housing NSW is responsible for setting policy and strategy for developing, funding, and monitoring community housing.
  • Communication – the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate (CAPMH) will make information available on resolution pathways for community housing related complaints through the Housing NSW, CAPMH and related websites.
  • Responsiveness - The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate (CAPMH) will respond promptly and fairly to issues or complaints within CAPMH's scope of responsibility.
  • Ethical Behaviour - Staff in the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate will comply with the Housing NSW Code of Conduct and Ethics and the Statement of Business Ethics.
  • Privacy & Confidentiality - The community has a right to be confident that information acquired and/or held by Housing NSW (and therefore the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate) will be kept confidential and only be used for lawful purposes as specified by legislation.

7. Resolving a concern

There are two key steps towards raising and resolving a concern. Firstly, it is important to define the concern and secondly it should be raised with the appropriate organisation in order to avoid any unnecessary delays in examining the concerns. A third step – ‘escalating a concern’ – can be added should the matter remain unresolved.

Step 1

Define the concern

The first step is to determine the type of concern. This step is important as it will help to work out where to raise the concern to have it investigated or dealt with as soon as possible.

Is the concern a complaint?

A community housing complaint is defined as ‘any expression of dissatisfaction made by or on behalf of a tenant/applicant of a community housing provider, a member of the public or by an organisation in the community housing sector where the complainant is unhappy with the standard or type of service and requests a changed outcome’.

Is the concern an issue?

A community housing issue is defined as ‘any expression of opinion or a statement made by or on behalf of a tenant/applicant of a community housing provider, an organisation or a member of the public where a response to that opinion/statement has been sought from the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate.’

Is the concern an appeal?

A Community housing appeal is defined as ‘any expression of dissatisfaction with a decision made by a social housing provider to provide or not provide a service (such as housing, transfer or priority on the housing register) or, a decision of the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate’.

Step 2
Raise the concern noting that:
  • All registered community housing providers are required to make information about internal complaints and appeals processes accessible to community housing clients.
    • As community housing providers are independent organisations, the internal complaints and appeals procedures will differ from organisation to organisation.
    • Because of this, the steps outlined in this Framework and linked fact sheets are broad.
    • Once a complaint/issue/appeal is received by an organisation, the staff in that organisation will ensure the matter is dealt with through the organisation’s established complaints and appeals management system.

For information on how to raise a community housing related complaint refer to Table 1 below.

For information on how to lodge a community housing related issue refer to Table 2 below.

For information on how to lodge a community housing related appeal refer to Table 3 below.

Should the matter remain unresolved and further escalation is required, proceed to Step 3.

Step 3

Escalating a concern

  • If an individual/organisation feels a concern has not being dealt with satisfactorily or a further review of the decision is desired, further complaint or appeal options can be explored.

Links to the organisations outlined in the Complaints, Issues and Appeals Management Referral Map and the Fact sheet - Roles and Responsibilities - Community Housing are also included below.

Links:

Table 1 - Types of community housing complaints

Related toExamples Steps for resolution

1. Tenancy management

  • Neighbourhood disturbances.
  • Tenant dissatisfied with maintenance repairs.
  • Notice of Termination has been issued.

2. Access and applications management

  • Seeking priority of application for transfer based upon special needs.

3. Community Housing Provider (in general)

  • Complainant does not like the general standard of service or way in which the provider is conducting their business.

4. Community Housing Provider staff

  • Allegation of fraud, corruption or misconduct.
  • Where possible, the complainant should raise the allegation, in writing, with the Chief Executive Officer of the community housing provider.
  • Also refer to Fact Sheet - Roles and Responsibilities - Community Housing for information on the Australian Investment and Securities Commission (ASIC).
  • If raising the allegation with the community housing provider or ASIC is not appropriate or the matter remains unresolved, the complaint should be referred, in writing, to the attention of the Executive Co-ordinator, Community Housing Division, Locked Bag 4001, Ashfield BC 1800.
  • The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate will assess the complaint and may review the aspects raised. Where possible, the Directorate will inform the complainant about any decision made.

5. Housing NSW staff - Community & Private Market Housing Directorate and Registrar of Community Housing staff

  • Allegation of fraud, corruption or misconduct.

For complaints from an individual or organisation in relation to an alleged breach of the Code of Conduct and Ethics by Housing NSW staff and allegations of fraud or corruption:

6. Regulatory Code

  • Complaint from an individual or organisation in relation to an alleged breach of the Regulatory Code.
  • See Registrar of Community Housing for information on the Regulatory Code.

Table 2 - Types of community housing issues

Related toExamples Steps for resolution

1. Housing NSW Community Housing Policy

  • Issues raised about the scope or intent of the Housing NSW Community Housing rent, access, eligibility or resource allocation policies.
  • The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate will respond to issues about the rationale behind a Housing NSW community housing policy. Issues of this nature can be raised by writing to the Executive Co-ordinator, Community Housing Division, Locked Bag 4001, Ashfield BC 1800.

2. Housing NSW Community Housing Program/Project

  • Issues raised about a process in relation to a program/project that is led by the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate.

Table 3 – Types of community housing related appeals

Related toExamples Steps for resolution

1. Tenancy management

  • Tenant feels that their rent has been calculated incorrectly.
  • For information on other matters that can be appealed visit the Housing Appeals Committee website

2. Access and applications management

  • Application for housing assistance has been declined.
  • For information on matters that can be appealed see Appealable and Non-Appealable Issues

3. Decisions made by the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate

  • Appeals concerning decision made by the Community & Private Market Housing Directorate for the allocation of resources or in relation to a program/project led by the Directorate.
  • The Community & Private Market Housing Directorate will investigate and respond to a concern from a community housing provider or other organisation where the appeal relates to decisions, actions or work undertaken by the Directorate. Appeals of this nature can be raised by writing to the Executive Co-ordinator, Community & Private Market Housing Directorate, Locked Bag 4001, Ashfield BC 1800.
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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019
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