Paying a DCJ Housing Rental Bond Factsheet
Last published 03 Oct 2019
What is a public housing rental bond?
A DCJ Housing (which includes public housing and Aboriginal Housing Office properties) rental bond is an amount of money paid by you (the tenant) as a security deposit against any failure to comply with the terms of your residential tenancy agreement. In NSW, all bonds must be lodged with NSW Fair Trading.
DCJ rental bonds help us recover some of the repair costs when a property is damaged, to help keep the public housing system financially sustainable.
Rental bonds also discourage people from damaging their property again. DCJ tenants get their bond back if they do not cause damage or have unpaid charges at the end of their tenancy.
Why do I need to pay a DCJ Housing rental bond?
People who cause damage to their DCJ Housing property may need to pay a bond. The bond applies to damage valued at $500 or more, that is discovered and charged at a single point in time after commencement of the policy. Damage that has previously been reported is not included in the assessment of the $500.
However, we consider what happened in the lead-up to the situation to make sure everyone is treated fairly and bonds are not charged to people with genuine reasons for the damage which we should consider, for example victims of domestic violence where the perpetrator caused the damage.
Rental bonds also apply to people returning to DCJ Housing who have caused damage to a previous DCJ Housing property. The bond applies to damage valued at $500 or more, that was discovered and charged at a single point in time. The damage must have occurred in the six years before they sign a new lease.
How much will I need to pay?
Your bond is never be more than four weeks’ market rent and it’s capped at $1400 (indexed annually at the same rate used by Centrelink). When we talk to you about paying the rental bond, we tell you exactly how much you need to pay and what your payment options will be.
If you can pay the bond up front, you will receive a 20% discount.
Payments can also be made by interest free instalments over two years, to make them more manageable.
If your household is paying more than 30% of household income in rent and bond, the payment plan will be extended to three years.
For households already paying 30% of their household income in rent, we will adjust the instalments so that you do not pay more than 35% of household income in rent and bond.
Can I get my bond back?
Yes, you can. Your bond payments will be lodged with NSW Fair Trading, just like in the private rental market. You can get your bond back at the end of your lease, as long as there are no outstanding tenancy charges such as rent arrears, water or damage charges.
If we make a claim on your bond, the process will be fair. We need to provide evidence to support the claim and the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) resolve any disputes.
What if I can’t afford to pay my rental bond?
We understand that people experience financial hardship at times. In these cases, we can work with you to adjust your payment plan or even pause it, so you don’t have to make repayments for up to three months. We call this a ‘deferral’ and we can apply it at any stage during your tenancy. To be considered for this, you should apply for a deferral and supply supporting documentation. You can only be approved for a payment deferral three times during your payment plan (that is, up to nine months in total).
If you are experiencing any difficulties paying your bond instalments, you should speak to a Client Service Officer in your local office as soon as possible, so they can assist you and may refer you to an appropriate support service.
What if I miss a payment?
You should contact your local DCJ Housing office immediately if you miss an instalment payment. We will also try to make contact with you to discuss a repayment arrangement. You will need to enter into an arrangement to make up for any missed payments, as well as continue to pay your regular fortnightly payments.
Payment of your rental bond is a condition of your lease, and it is just as important as paying for any other tenancy charge. Continually missing payments could result in a breach of your residential tenancy agreement. For financial advice and support go to:
When do I need to pay my bond and where can I make payments?
You are a former tenant returning to DCJ Housing or an existing tenant transferring and signing a new lease and have been asked to pay a rental bond:
We provide you with a letter outlining the details of your bond and the bond lodgement form when you sign your new residential tenancy agreement. You can choose to pay your bond by interest free instalments or upfront to receive a 20% discount.
You need to pay the first instalment of your bond within 14 calendar days from the start date of your new lease. If you choose to pay upfront you have 8 weeks from the start date of your residential tenancy agreement to finalise your payments and receive the discount. However, if you take more than 14 days to do this, you should continue to make your minimum bond instalments during this period to avoid falling into arrears should you change your mind about paying the bond in full.
A financial counsellor might be able to help you work out if paying up front is the best option for you. Financial counsellors provide a free service and work in community organisations. To find a financial counsellor in your area visit www.fcan.com.au.
You are a current tenant and have been asked to pay a rental bond:
We send you a letter with the details of your bond and the bond lodgement form. You need to sign and return all documents to us within 14 calendar days. You have 8 weeks from the date of the letter to make your first bond instalment payment. If you choose to pay upfront you have 8 weeks from the date of the letter to finalise your payments and receive the discount. If you need any assistance completing these forms you can contact your local DCJ Housing office. We offer a number of payment options to pay your rental bond charges, including the rent deduction scheme, BPay, direct debit, online via ePay on our website or through the MyHousing app on your mobile phone. For tenancies that commenced before 29 June 2018, you may continue to make payments at Australia Post or Service NSW.
Where can I find more information?
To find out more, contact your local DCJ Housing office, either in person or by telephone. You can find your nearest office on the DCJ website: www.facs.nsw.gov.au
You can reach the Housing Contact Centre 24/7 on 1800 422 322.
NSW Fair Trading also has advice about how rental bonds work in the private market. Visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au or call them on 13 32 20.
If you need further advice, contact your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service, Community Legal Centre or LawAccess NSW.