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Rentstart Assistance Policy

Last published 22 Oct 2018

1. Background

The Rentstart scheme provides a range of financial assistance for eligible clients to help them set up or maintain a tenancy in the private rental market. The type and level of assistance provided is based on the client’s individual circumstances and needs and is intended to:

  • Assist clients to establish or keep a sustainable tenancy in the private sector
  • Provide quick financial help with housing related costs to clients in need, particularly those facing homelessness
  • Assist tenants whom the Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) has assessed as ineligible for a public housing lease extension due to their income and assets, to make the move to private rental accommodation.

There are five types of Rentstart assistance:

The intent of this policy is to outline the various forms of Rentstart assistance available from the social housing sector in NSW.

2. Scope

This policy applies to all applicants of Rentstart assistance products and all applicants who are homeless and may be eligible to receive short term temporary accommodation.

Under Housing Pathways, FACS and participating community housing providers deliver or facilitate access to Rentstart assistance products.

3. Policy statement

To access any of the Rentstart assistance options, clients must meet the relevant eligibility criteria, which varies for each product. Clients will be advised in writing of the outcome of a Rentstart assistance assessment.

If the client is not eligible for a particular product, client’s may be referred to other services such as a Specialist Homelessness Service, rehabilitation services and supported housing, or be considered for other types of assistance.

3.1 Rentstart assistance products

Applying for Rentstart

Clients who wish to access Rentstart will need to complete an application form. Clients are able to complete an application online or download a paper application from the FACS website. Under Housing Pathways, participating community housing providers facilitate access or deliver Rentstart products on behalf of FACS

Applications for Rentstart Bond Loan, Advance Rent, Tenancy Assistance and Temporary Accommodation will be assessed within one working day of receiving the application and all necessary supporting information from the client.

The following clients may also apply for Rentstart:

  • Clients currently receiving a Private Rental Subsidy
  • Clients currently receiving a Rent Choice Subsidy
  • Former social housing tenants or occupants including those with a less than satisfactory, unsatisfactory or ineligible category. They may be required to enter a repayment plan to pay off any debt associated to their former tenancy before assistance can be provided
  • Clients exiting social housing at the end of a fixed-term provisional lease (3 or 6 months) who are not eligible for FACS Recognition as a Tenant (RaaT).
  • Clients who are referred through DefenceCare.

There are certain circumstances where Rentstart will not be provided. For example, when a client seeking a Rentstart Bond Loan has already moved into the property and has sourced a bond elsewhere that has already been lodged with the Rental Bond Board. For more information, go to Circumstances in which FACS will not provide Rentstart Assistance.

Assessing eligibility for Rentstart products

In general, to be eligible for Rentstart assistance, clients must meet both the Eligibility criteria for social housing and a cash assets limit. However, specific eligibility criteria for each Rentstart product will vary. For more information on eligibility for specific Rentstart products, go to the Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products. In addition, there are some circumstances where consideration will be given to providing assistance to a client who does not meet these criteria. For more information, go to Clients that may require special consideration.

Assistance will not be provided for housing that is clearly beyond the applicant’s financial means. The rent paid for the property should not exceed 50% of the household’s total gross weekly income, unless the client can demonstrate:

  • An ability to meet reasonable living expenses, and
  • Capacity to maintain Bond Loan payments to FACS, if seeking Rentstart Bond Loan or Rentstart Move assistance, and
  • That they are likely to sustain the tenancy for up to 12 months.

To determine rental affordability, all forms of income are included in the calculation of household income, including maintenance payments received, Family Tax Benefit Part A and B and other allowances that are not included in the income eligibility assessment for social housing.

Commonwealth Rent Assistance is calculated as a 100% contribution towards the rent. For example, if a single person receives a Newstart Allowance of $218.55 per week and Commonwealth Rent Assistance of $53.60 per week, affordability is assessed as follows:

$218.55 x 50% = $109.28

$53.60 x 100% = $53.60

Total affordable rent = $162.88.

Where a client is seeking a Rentstart Bond Loan to establish a Private Rental Subsidy tenancy, the affordability will be assessed based on the percentage of the client’s income spent on rent after the Private Rental Subsidy has been applied.

In the event that a client is approved to pay a rent higher than the Private Rental Subsidy benchmark, a check will be completed to ensure the rent for the property does not exceed 50% of the household’s total gross weekly income before offering a Rentstart Bond Loan. For more information about Private Rental Subsidy benchmarks, go to Private Rental Subsidy.

Shared households

In general, the income of all people in the household who are 18 years or older is assessed when considering whether a household is eligible for Rentstart assistance.

Applications for Rentstart assistance from individual household members within a household will be considered if:

  • The household as a whole is assessed as not eligible for Rentstart assistance; and
  • The applicant is not part of broader family unit living in the property.

If an applicant in this situation is assessed as eligible for Rentstart assistance, the person will be provided their share of the assistance only. For example if the person is responsible for paying 50% of the rent, assistance will be provided for no more than 50% of the rental bond or Advance Rent required to establish a tenancy.

Supporting information provided will be used with an application to decide if people on an application are part of a family unit or living independently within in a shared household. Examples of situations regarded as a family unit include:

  • Husband/Wife
  • Defacto couples
  • Boyfriend/Girlfriend
  • Parent with child/children
  • A person receiving a carer payment or carer allowance due to caring for another household member.

When issuing a Rentstart Bond Loan, the names of all household members listed on the Residential Tenancy Agreement will be included on the Rental Bond Lodgement form lodged with the Rental Bond Board.

Only one Bond Loan can be provided for a household. Therefore in a shared tenancy situation, if a Bond Loan is provided for one household member’s portion of the bond, other household members are not able to later apply for a Rentstart Bond Loan for their portion of the bond.

Clients that may require special consideration

Special consideration will be given to the needs of clients with a disability and clients approved for a Private Rental Subsidy who apply for Rentstart Bond Loan or Tenancy Assistance. These clients may have more than the allowable cash assets put aside and be eligible for assistance if the client can show that these savings are essential to:

  • Meet their medical bills
  • Pay carer costs
  • Buy special medical equipment
  • Meet the costs of other essential services.

The cost of treating their disability, as documented by health or community experts, will be taken into account when considering eligibility for Rentstart.

Special consideration will also be given to Rent Choice clients who apply for Rentstart Bond Loan. Rent Choice clients that exceed the social housing income eligibility limits and are within the moderate income limits are still eligible to receive a Rentstart Bond Loan, go to the Rent Choice Policy. Rent Choice clients are still required to meet the existing Rentstart criteria to receive Advance Rent.

Circumstances in which Rentstart assistance will not be provided

Rentstart assistance will not be provided where the client:

  • is moving into a property which they are buying, or which they own
  • is moving into, or between, social housing
  • is moving into a Specialist Homelessness Services funded property
  • has made a false declaration on an application for Rentstart. Any false declaration on an application for Rentstart will exclude the client from assistance for two years
  • has been residing at a property for more then 28 days
  • has already lodged a bond with the Rental Bond Board
  • Has been suspended from receiving further Rentstart assistance due to an unpaid Bond Loan or a former Bond Loan debt.

In addition, Rentstart Bond Loan assistance will not be provided if a client owes FACS funds for two previous Rentstart Bond Loans, whether these are current Bond Loans or former Bond Loan debts or a combination.

Rentstart and young people

The Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998 states that:

  • A child is under 16 years of age
  • A young person is aged 16 years or over but under 18 years of age.

A child unaccompanied by a parent or guardian is not eligible for Rentstart assistance. In these situations, a referral will be made to FACS Community Services for alternative accommodation and support services for the child.

For further information on how social housing providers respond to suspected child abuse and neglect, and to a child or young person at risk of significant harm, see the Children and Young People At Risk Policy. For further information on child protection in NSW, refer to the Keep Them Safe website.

Rentstart assistance will be provided to young people if they meet the criteria for the specific Rentstart product. In addition, a young person must:

  • Meet all the general eligibility criteria for social housing, and
  • Have an income, and
  • The social housing provider must be satisfied that:
    • Rentstart assistance is the best way to meet the young person’s accommodation needs, and
    • The young person is able to meet their tenancy obligations.

When a young person applies for a Rentstart Bond Loan, they will be asked additional questions to ensure they understand the binding nature of the agreement and will be required to listen to the recorded terms and conditions to further confirm they understand the obligations of the agreement. A young person may seek assistance from a local FACS office, or participating community housing provider, or an independent person if they wish to have the conditions further explained to them.

In relation to the provision of Temporary Accommodation to a young person, there are Specialist Homelessness Services specifically for young people who are homeless. Temporary Accommodation will not be provided for a young person if there is accommodation available for them at a specialist service.

3.2 Rentstart Bond Loan

Rentstart Bond Loan is an interest-free loan to assist eligible clients pay a rental bond for a tenancy under the Residential Tenancies Act 2010. For more information about the eligibility criteria for a Rentstart Bond Loan, go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

FACS will provide a Rentstart Bond Loan for up to 100% of the bond. However, clients are able to apply for less than 100% of a bond, but not less than 25%. For more information on the criteria to determine the amount of assistance provided, go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Bond Loans provided to clients approved for Private Rental Subsidy and Rent Choice clients are calculated on the full rent for the property.

The client must agree to the Terms and Conditions of a Rentstart Bond Loan to receive this assistance. When there is more than one adult in the household, one person in the household must consent to be named as the borrower on the Bond Loan Agreement. FACS will not enter into a Rentstart Bond Loan with multiple people. For more information about Rentstart assistance for a multiple adult households, go to Shared households in this policy.

The borrower is not able to assign their responsibility for repaying the Bond Loan to another person/s that was approved for a Rentstart Bond Loan at the same time.

All household members can make payments into the Bond Loan account using the Rentstart Bond Loan Deduction Scheme or other payment methods such as BPAY or internet banking.

Once the landlord or agent has lodged a Bond Lodgement form, FACS will lodge the full bond with the Rental Bond Board directly. FACS will cancel a Bond Lodgement Form that is not presented within 90 days.

The client’s payments to FACS start once the bond is lodged, and continue until the loan is repaid. FACS usually expects Rentstart Bond Loans to be paid back within 12 or 18 months. For more information about payment plans, go to Rentstart Bond Loan Payment Plans.

FACS retains an interest in the bond until the loan is repaid. If the tenancy ends before the loan is repaid, the Rental Bond Board will return FACS’ contribution towards the bond to FACS, after paying any claim against the bond by the landlord or agent. FACS will then refund to the client all of the money paid under the Rentstart Bond Loan and not claimed by the landlord or agent. If the amount claimed by the landlord or agent is greater than the amount the client has paid off the loan, the outstanding amount will become a former Rentstart Bond Loan debt and the client will be required to repay this to FACS.

To ensure that loan arrangements, such as actioning a refund on a client’s account, or any arrears management actions, can be appropriately managed, FACS must be advised of any change in a client’s name that occurs while the Rentstart Bond Loan is in place. Go to Change of name requirements when a Rentstart Bond Loan is in place for further information.

It is a condition of receiving a Rentstart Bond Loan that payments are made to FACS fortnightly. Each client’s payments are calculated based on the amount of the bond and the payment period. The minimum payment accepted by FACS is $10 per fortnight. Go to Rentstart Bond Loan Payments for more information about Rentstart Bond Loan payment amounts.

It is a condition of the Rentstart Bond Loan Agreement that those in receipt of a Centrelink income make payments via the Rentstart Bond Loan Deduction Scheme. Under this scheme payments are directly deducted from the client’s Centrelink payments each fortnight.

Those not receiving Centrelink payments have access to other payment options such as BPAY and online payments. FACS expects clients to meet their Rentstart Bond Loan payment obligations. Payment arrangements can be varied in situations where the client is experiencing difficulty making the payments. See the Rentstart Bond Loan Account Management Policy for more information.

FACS will not approve a Rentstart Bond Loan if a bond for the tenancy has already been lodged with the Rental Bond Board.

Rentstart Bond Loan Payment Plans

Rentstart Bond Loan payment plans of 12 months or 18 months, and in exceptional circumstances, 36 months are offered based on the percentage of income spent on rent. Clients paying a higher proportion of income on rent are offered a longer payment period. FACS does not include Rentstart Bond Loan payments when calculating rental affordability.

Table 1 Bond Loan Payment Plans

Rentstart Bond Loan Payment Plans
% of income spent on rentBond loan payment plan
Less than 45% 12 month payment
46-50% 18 month payment

During the term of a Rentstart Bond Loan, clients who cannot maintain Rentstart Bond Loan payments based on their 12 or 18 month payment plans, may be assessed for a longer payment plan, or for a deferral of payments. For more information, refer to the Rentstart Bond Loan Account Management Policy.

Rentstart Bond Loan Payments

The Rentstart Bond Loan payment amount is calculated by dividing the Rentstart Bond Loan amount by the term of the Rentstart Bond Loan. If the calculated fortnightly amount is less than $10 per fortnight, the fortnightly payment will default to $10 per fortnight. Payments are rounded up to the nearest dollar.

Examples of how this fortnightly payment amount is calculated and how the minimum amount is applied is shown in the table below.

Table 2 Impact of minimum payment amount

Rentstart Bond Loan Minimum Payment Amounts
Bond Loan Amount Loan Period (in months) Calculated Fortnightly Payment Amount Minimum Fortnightly Payment
$1200 12 $50 $50
$1200 18 $34 $34
$1200 36 $17 $17
$400 12 $17 $17
$400 18 $12 $12
$400 36 $6 $10

All clients are able to make additional payments at any time, however if a client is in credit on their account, the amount will not be available to be refunded to the client until the Rentstart Bond Loan has been finalised.

Repeat assistance within a 12 month period

FACS will provide additional bond assistance within a 12-month period for clients who have:

  • repaid their Rentstart Bond Loan in full before the end of their tenancy, or
  • are up-to-date with their Bond Loan payments.

In exceptional circumstances FACS may agree to provide a second bond assistance within 12 months, of no more than 50% of the bond, for a client who does not meet this criteria. In order to be considered for assistance the client must demonstrate a compelling need to establish a new tenancy due to:

  • a significant change in their housing needs which requires them to move, or
  • a need to move to maintain links to essential medical and support services, or
  • their previous tenancy for which assistance was provided is/will be ended due to sale of the property.

Change of name requirements when a Rentstart Bond Loan is in place

A client who has a Rentstart Bond Loan must advise FACS if they change their name to ensure there is a record of the name change in the system, in the event of a refund, or any arrears management actions. The details of the name change will be updated in the system; however the Rentstart Bond Loan Agreement does not need to be re-issued.

When a Rentstart client changes their name, they should submit the Advice of name change form to a local FACS office, or participating community housing provider, along with evidence to verify their change of name. Examples of acceptable evidence include:

  • a Deed Poll document,
  • a change of name certificate,
  • a marriage certificate.

The original documentation must be sighted by staff, and copies of the relevant evidence saved to the client’s digital client container.

3.3 Advance Rent

Advance Rent is provided to the client as a grant and is not repaid to FACS. It is only provided where the client is also receiving a Rentstart Bond Loan.

Advance rent is made available to assist clients moving into accommodation such as caravan parks, registered boarding houses and hostels, where a deposit is required but there is no requirement for a bond to be lodged at the Rental Bond Board. In this case, FACS will pay up to 100% of key money, security bond or other deposit required as Advance Rent. This assistance is provided as a grant and is not repaid to FACS.

Clients moving into caravan parks or similar lodgings where there is a requirement for a bond to be lodged at the Rental Bond Board may apply for Rentstart Bond Loan and will be assessed using the same eligibility criteria. For more information on the criteria to determine the amount of assistance provided, go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Eligible Rent Choice clients may be assisted with Advance Rent and will be assessed using the Rentstart assistance eligibility criteria. For more information on the criteria for Rentstart assistance go to Eligible criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Private Rental Subsidy clients are not able to be assisted with Advance Rent under the Rentstart Bond Loan scheme.

For more information, go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Repeat assistance within a 12 month period

FACS will usually provide Advance Rent no more than once in a 12 month period. In exceptional circumstances FACS may agree to provide additional Advance Rent assistance within a 12 month period for a client who has a compelling need to establish a new tenancy due to:

  • a significant change in their housing needs which requires them to move, or
  • a need to move to maintain links to essential medical and support services, or
  • their previous tenancy for which assistance was provided is/will be ended due to sale of the property.

3.4 Rentstart Move

Tenants who are leaving public housing voluntarily or at the end of their fixed term lease because they have been assessed as ineligible for a further lease are not entitled to Rentstart assistance such a Rentstart Bond Loan, Advance Rent or Temporary Accommodation.

FACS recognises that these tenants may face difficulties in meeting the costs of relocating. In this case, the tenant may apply for Rentstart Move.

If a client is eligible for Rentstart Move, FACS will provide a Rentstart Bond Loan for up to 100% of a rental bond. FACS will provide this loan under the same Terms and Conditions as it provides Rentstart Bond Loans to other eligible clients. For more information on Rentstart Move eligibility criteria, go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Advance Rent is not available to a client for 12 months after FACS has provided Rentstart Move. Applications for social housing are not affected by receipt of Rentstart Move.

3.5 Tenancy Assistance

This assistance is for clients in a private rental property who are in rent and/or water arrears. Tenancy Assistance will only be provided once in a 12 month period and the client must have an agreement with the agent or landlord to continue the tenancy for up to 12 months.

  • Notification, in writing, of rent and/or water arrears from the landlord or agent, for example a letter or statement of account.
  • Repayment plan agreed to by tenant and landlord or agent, in writing and signed by both signatories.
  • Notice of Termination by the landlord or agent.

Tenancy Assistance may be in the form of rent arrears, water arrears or a combination of both. The maximum amount of assistance cannot exceed the equivalent of four weeks rent. This is the maximum amount of assistance that will be provided and most clients will receive less than this where they can make an arrangement with their landlord, agent or water authority to pay off the arrears. Tenancy Assistance is not provided as a loan, and is therefore not required to be repaid.

If a client re-applies for Tenancy Assistance more than once within a two-year period, assistance will only be provided with rent and/or water arrears for a:

  • Maximum of two weeks for unfurnished dwellings, or
  • Maximum of three weeks for furnished dwellings,

except where the situation may lead to placing other dependant household members at risk of homelessness if assistance is not provided. In this case, full Tenancy Assistance may be provided.

For further information about the eligibility criteria for Rentstart go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

For further information about the circumstances in which Rentstart assistance will not be provided, including Tenancy Assistance, go to the Circumstances in which FACS will not provide assistance.

3.6 Temporary Accommodation

Purpose of Temporary Accommodation

Temporary Accommodation supplements Specialist Homelessness Services in providing time limited accommodation in low cost motels or caravan parks for clients who are homeless. The intention of Temporary Accommodation is to provide a bridge to give clients a chance to secure alternative accommodation, whether crisis accommodation or private rental. It is a short-term temporary measure rather than a longer-term response.

Provision of Temporary Accommodation

Temporary Accommodation is provided by FACS and a number of participating community housing providers through Housing Pathways.

Length of assistance

The length of Temporary Accommodation assistance offered is based on an assessment of a client’s immediate housing needs. There is no automatic entitlement to a specific period of assistance. For most clients, a limited period of assistance will be sufficient to locate alternative accommodation.

Most assistance will be contained to a few days to enable clients to make arrangements for their immediate and longer-term accommodation. In some instances, this may be renewed to provide an additional period of time for the client to secure alternative accommodation.

The total assistance provided will not exceed 28 days in a 12-month period other than in exceptional circumstances, and in this instance, a maximum of 14 days may be approved at any one time. Each extension is subject to assessment. Extensions beyond 28 days require escalation to a more senior officer.

Acceptance of alternative accommodation

It is a condition of receiving Temporary Accommodation that clients support themselves by seeking accommodation, whether longer term housing or alternative short term accommodation.

Temporary Accommodation will not be continued where a client has received an offer of alternative appropriate accommodation. What is considered appropriate accommodation will depend on the client’s individual situation but may include social housing, private rental (including share accommodation), registered boarding house or crisis accommodation.

Clients who are eligible for Temporary Accommodation will be encouraged to undertake a full Housing Assistance assessment so appropriate forms of longer term housing assistance can be identified. Through this process clients in Temporary Accommodation will be assisted to find more appropriate short or long term accommodation.

Clients staying in Temporary Accommodation or Specialist Homelessness Service accommodation may be eligible to receive two weeks Advance Rent in the event they secure private market accommodation and receive a Rentstart Bond Loan. For further information see Eligibility criteria for Rentstart Assistance products.

Payment arrangements

Under the Temporary Accommodation product, financial assistance is provided which helps the client to pay for their accommodation. Clients are generally required to make a contribution to the cost of this accommodation. For more information go to Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products.

Temporary Accommodation assessment and eligibility

The eligibility criteria for Temporary Accommodation is outlined in the Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products section in this policy.

Client responsibilities

Clients receiving Temporary Accommodation will:

  • Abide by the rules of the accommodation facility.
  • At the end of their stay, leave the accommodation in good order.
  • Make the financial contribution to their accommodation costs as requested.
  • Actively seek alternative accommodation including crisis accommodation and other short-term options to resolve their own housing need.

An extension of Temporary Accommodation may be declined if a client has not met these responsibilities.

Social housing provider responsibilities

Social housing providers have a responsibility to assess clients for their housing need and assist eligible clients to find stable, longer-term accommodation.

They will:

  • Conduct an assessment of housing need with presenting clients.
  • Link Temporary Accommodation clients with other housing assistance products and services that may be appropriate. Such as Specialist Homelessness Services, private rental assistance (e.g. Rentstart, Private Rental Brokerage Service, and Tenancy Facilitation) and social housing.
  • Encourage clients to accept referrals or refer themselves to appropriate support services.

Exclusions for assistance

Temporary Accommodation will not be provided or extended to clients who have done the following within the past twelve months:

  • Failed to adhere to the client responsibilities outlined above,
  • Damaged property or engaged in antisocial behaviour whilst being assisted with Temporary Accommodation,
  • Refused an alternative reasonable offer of accommodation.

FACS Taxation requirements

For taxation purposes, FACS requires valid tax invoices for the provision of Temporary Accommodation to clients of FACS. Therefore, FACS prefers to engage Temporary Accommodation providers who are GST registered.

FACS seeks to enter into agreements with providers that enable it to issue Recipient Created Tax Invoices (RCTIs) on behalf of providers. Providers need to be GST registered and have an ABN number to enter such an agreement. Where providers have not entered into a formal agreement, then FACS may use other arrangements, as required, to allow it to provide Temporary Accommodation.

Where possible, FACS will trade with organisations that are registered with an ABN.

Participating community housing providers who deliver Temporary Accommodation will follow their individual organisation’s requirements for taxation purposes.

3.7 Eligibility criteria for Rentstart assistance products

The eligibility criteria for each Rentstart assistance product is shown in the table below.

Rentstart Product Eligibility Criteria

Rentstart Bond Loan

To be eligible for a Rentstart Bond Loan where FACS is providing up to 100% of the bond, a client must:

  • Be eligible for social housing, and
  • Intend to remain in that particular location, with the tenancy being sustainable for up to 12 months (that is, they are not on vacation or a tourist), and
  • Be able to sustain a tenancy in the private rental market, and
  • Have no more than $3000 in cash assets, and
  • The rent paid for the property must not exceed 50% of the household’s total gross weekly income, and
  • The loan amount cannot be less than 25% (or 1 week) of the total bond amount.
Rent Choice clients may be exempt from meeting the income eligibility and rental affordability criteria. Approved Rent Choice clients are eligible to receive 100% of the bond Loan. For further information see the Rent Choice Policy.

Advance Rent

Clients who can demonstrate severe difficulty in meeting the establishment costs of a tenancy may be eligible for additional help through the provision of Advance Rent. To be eligible for Advance Rent, a client must:

  • Receive a Rentstart Bond Loan, including acceptance of the Terms and Conditions, and
  • Demonstrate significant reasons for establishing a new tenancy or ‘at risk’ factors in their current tenancy, and
  • Have no more than $3000 in cash assets, and
  • Have severely limited access to financial or other resources, such as essential furnishings to sustain the tenancy, or
  • Have additional costs such as medical or disability related costs, including carer costs and children that may be living with the household in the future.

Generally, FACS will provide one week’s Advance Rent if the client can demonstrate significant reasons for establishing a new tenancy such as:

  • Termination of the current private tenancy due to eviction or expiry of lease, or
  • Moving out of substandard or overcrowded accommodation, or
  • A medical condition or disability being affected by current accommodation, or
  • Refugees or humanitarian entrants recently arrived in Australia as permanent residents, or
  • Opportunity to access employment or training, or
  • Currently homeless or in short-term accommodation.

Clients may be eligible for 2 weeks Advance Rent when they, or a member of their household, can demonstrate ‘at risk’ factors that impact on their personal safety or mental health such as:

  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Threatening behaviour by one or more household members against another occupant
  • Torture and trauma.

Clients receiving Temporary Accommodation assistance or in Specialist Homelessness Service accommodation may also be granted 2 weeks Advance Rent.

Clients moving out of social housing may, however, also be eligible for assistance with Advance Rent through Rentstart Bond Loan if they are suffering severe circumstances or facing eviction which is not the result of a breach of their Tenancy Agreement.

They must satisfy the Rentstart Bond Loan eligibility criteria and be able to demonstrate that, if not provided with assistance, it may cause homelessness.

If a client is moving into accommodation such as a caravan park, registered boarding house or hostel, FACS will pay up to 100% of the key money, security bond or other deposit as Advance Rent. This assistance is provided as a grant and is not repaid to FACS.

Rentstart Move

To be eligible for Rentstart Move, a client must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a FACS tenant or joint tenant (not an additional occupant, however they are eligible to apply for other Rentstart products) who is leaving public housing voluntarily or at the end of their fixed term lease because they have been assessed as ineligible for a further lease (this includes Emergency Temporary Accommodation leases and tenants on 3-6 month leases, for example, tenants not entitled to remain in public housing under the Recognition as a Tenant Policy), and
  • Rent and all other FACS tenancy accounts are at a nil balance or in credit, and
  • Have no more than $5000 in cash assets, and
  • Not own or part own any residential or commercial property, and
  • Meet the Rentstart Move income limits (which are the same as the FACS Rent Subsidy Eligibility Limit).

FACS will accept applications for assistance before the FACS tenancy has ended, however clients will not be eligible for assistance if a bond has already been lodged with the Rental Bond Board for the new tenancy.

Joint tenants who separate at the end of their public housing lease may each apply for Rentstart Move.

Tenancy Assistance

To be eligible for Tenancy Assistance, the client must be eligible for a Rentstart Bond Loan and:

  • Have no more than $1000 in cash assets, and
  • Provide one or more pieces of evidence of the arrears. Go to Proof of rent and water arrears for tenancy assistance for a list of the types of evidence required, and
  • A household income sufficient to meet future rent and water rates, and
  • An agreement with the agent or landlord to continue the tenancy for up to 12 months.

The paying of rent and/or water arrears must be more cost effective than any other social housing service.

FACS tenants leaving public housing voluntarily or at the end of their fixed term lease are not entitled to Tenancy Assistance towards any arrears owing on their FACS tenancy.

Temporary Accommodation

To be eligible for Temporary Accommodation, a client should:

  • Be a citizen or permanent resident of Australia;
  • If from interstate, demonstrate that they are looking to reside permanently in NSW; and
  • Be 16 years of age or over (unless accompanied by a parent or guardian); and
  • Meet the Social Housing income eligibility limit; and
  • Have no more than $1000 in cash assets; and
  • Be facing imminent homelessness; and
  • Be unable to find alternative accommodation, and demonstrate situations in which their personal safety or mental health, or that of another member of their household, may be at risk, such as:
    • Domestic violence
    • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
    • Child abuse or neglect
    • Threatening behaviour by one or more household members against another occupant
    • Torture and trauma; and
  • Be facing a short wait for a more permanent housing solution such as some circumstances where a housing provider has approved a person for priority housing.

Although clients are usually required to provide two forms of identification, a few days of Temporary Accommodation assistance can be provided to clients who have only one form of identification. The client must provide a second form of identification to receive further assistance including an extension to their Temporary Accommodation assistance. See Proof of Identification in the Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement for more information.

In exceptional circumstances, a few days of Temporary Accommodation assistance may be provided to a person who is a temporary resident. See the Social Housing Eligibility and Allocations Policy Supplement for more information.

Generally, clients receiving Temporary Accommodation assistance will be asked to make a contribution to the cost of their accommodation. A range of factors will be taken into account to determine the client’s ability to contribute including:

  • The number of days before the client receives a payment from their employer or Centrelink
  • The length of assistance required
  • Any savings the client may have
  • Any increase in living costs caused by living in temporary accommodation.

The contribution requested should not place the client under financial hardship.

4. Evidence requirements

The following evidence requirements apply:

SituationEvidence

Proof of cash assets

The client needs to demonstrate that they do not exceed the cash assets limit. An example of documents required to prove this include:

  • A letter or statement from a bank or an investment organisation about savings/investments etc, providing details of the amount or dividend received.

Proof of rent and water arrears for tenancy assistance

One or more of the following documents are required:

  • A letter or statement of account from the landlord or agent detailing the arrears.
  • A repayment plan agreed to by the tenant and landlord or agent, in writing and signed by both signatories.
  • Notice of Termination by the landlord or agent.
  • Letter undertaking to preserve the security of the tenancy subject to no further breaches of the agreement.
  • Notice from the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Evidence demonstrating ‘at risk factors’ for additional assistance (including Advance Rent) or Temporary Accommodation

The number and type of documents may vary according to the circumstances, but may include:

  • Police reports
  • An Apprehended Violence Order (AVO)
  • Medical assessment form
  • Reports from a doctor, health professional, social worker or a community support agency such as a refuge, community centre or neighbourhood centre worker
  • Support letter from STARTTS or similar organisation.

Evidence of eligibility for Rentstart assistance after a social housing lease has ended

The income and asset documents provided during the fixed term lease review can be used to assess eligibility, provided they are not more than six months old.

5. Legislation and compliance

FACS and a number of participating community housing providers are able to provide private rental assistance products in accordance with the Housing Act 2001.

6. Related documentation

7. Further information

Appeals and review of decisions

If a client disagrees with a decision a social housing provider has made, they should first discuss their concerns with a staff member from the provider that made the decision. The next step, if they still believe the social housing provider made the wrong decision, is to ask for a formal review of the decision.

For information on how FACS reviews work, see the fact sheet Appeals and reviewing decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy. This policy applies to all clients of FACS including applicants for housing assistance who are assisted by FACS local offices or the FACS Housing Contact Centre.

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