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Tenancy Charges and Account Management Policy Supplement

This document provides additional information to support the following policies of the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ):

Index

Tenancy Charges

Charging rent

  1. Current income eligibility for a rent subsidy
  2. Rent assessment rules
  3. Assessable and non-assessable income and assets
  4. Legitimate business expenses - Deductible and non-deductible
  5. Eligibility for the $5 minimum rent
  6. Eligibility for the Start Work Bonus
  7. Eligibility for Temporary Reduced Rent Payable

Water usage charges

  1. Tenancies and properties that are exempt from water usage charges
  2. Percentage water charge rate
  3. Minimum and maximum charges
  4. Water usage allowances

Rent Subsidy Non-Disclosure

  1. Receipt of information by DCJ
  2. Inquiries related to alleged subsidy non-disclosure
  3. Assessment criteria and evidence for determining subsidy non-disclosure
  4. Outcome of assessment

Account management

  1. Evidence requirements when making decisions about managing accounts

Tenancy charges

Charging rent

DCJ charges market rent for all its properties. This is the maximum rent a public housing tenant can be charged. The tenant can apply for a rent subsidy; the rent subsidy will reduce the amount of money the tenant has to pay in rent.

There are a number of household income limits and rent assessment rules that DCJ uses to determine if a tenant is eligible for a rent subsidy and, if so, how much rent they will pay. DCJ determines a tenant’s eligibility for a rent subsidy by considering their household’s gross assessable income, household size, the age of household members and household income limits (or thresholds).

1. Current income eligibility for a rent subsidy

Household income limits are a range of income thresholds that determine whether the tenant is eligible for a rent subsidy and the percentage of income the tenant pays as rent.

DCJ determines income limits by using different combinations of the four key household member types listed in the table below. DCJ updates these income limits every year.

Definitions:

Adult: A person who is over the age of 18, or the tenant and/or their partner if under 18.

Child: A person who is under the age of 18, unless that person is the tenant or the tenant’s partner.

Table 1: Household member types and weekly income allowance from 1 July 2019:

Household member

Weekly income allowance

Moderate income limit (or threshold)

30% limit (or threshold)

Subsidy eligibility limit (or threshold)

First Adult

$815

$1,019

$1,520

Each Additional adult

$215

$269

$405

First child

$160

$200

$305

Each additional child

$110

$138

$200

Applying rent subsidy income limits:

To determine which household income limit applies to a household, the following steps are applied:

  • Step 1: Add up the assessable income for each adult in the household. Do not include any Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA) amounts.
  • Step 2: Add up the number of adults in the household.
  • Step 3: Add up the number of children in the household.
  • Step 4: For the whole household, add up the weekly income allowance from Table 1 above.
  • Step 5: Compare the amount at Step 4 with the assessable household income at Step 1. This comparison will show the applicable rent subsidy income limit.

CRA is not taken into consideration when determining the subsidy eligibility threshold.

2. Rent assessment rules

Table 1: Rent assessment rules

Condition

Rule

Maximum rent payable

Market rent for the property

Gross assessable household income is less than the moderate income limit

Rent payable is 25% of income

Gross assessable household income is:

  • Equal to or more than the moderate income limit, and
  • Less than the 30% limit

Rent payable is between 25% and 30% of income, depending on how far the household income is above the moderate income limit

Gross assessable household income is

  • Equal to or more than the 30% limit, and
  • Less than the subsidy eligibility limit

Rent payable is 30% of income

Gross assessable household income is equal to or more than the subsidy eligibility limit

Rent payable is the market rent for the property. These households will not be entitled to a rent subsidy.

Rent payable is calculated as being more than the market rent

Rent payable is the market rent for the property

Application of Vacant Bedroom Charge

A Vacant Bedroom Charge may apply to some tenancies.

The subsidised rent payable will increase by:

  • $20 a week per household if there is one person aged 16 years and over; or
  • $30 a week per household for two or more people aged 16 years and over.

The Vacant Bedroom Charge does not apply to Aboriginal Housing Office tenancies.

For more information see the Charging Rent Policy

Minimum age of a household member for their income to be included as part of the gross assessable household income

18 years.

Exception: Where a tenant and/or their partner is under the age of 18. In these cases, they are treated as adults and DCJ includes their income as part of the gross assessable household income.

Application of concessional rates

DCJ will assess the income of some household members at a reduced percentage rate, called a concessional rate.

Concessional rates may apply to some members of the household:

  • Family Tax Benefits Parts A and B (FTB Energy Supplements are excluded from this concession)
  • Household members, other than the tenant or partner, aged 18-20

In these circumstances for these household members, a concessional rate of 15% will apply.

Where the gross assessable household income attracts a rent payable of between 25% and 30% of income, that assessment rate will only apply to those household members who do not receive a concessional rate.

Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO) tenants and Commonwealth Rent Assistance (CRA)

AHO tenants and their household members may be eligible for CRA. DCJ will impute the CRA amount to which the person is entitled. DCJ will assess 100% of the imputed CRA amount toward the rent subsidy assessment.

If a person in an AHO household is not eligible for CRA, then that person's rent payable will not include CRA.

If the tenant informs DCJ that their CRA payments paid by Centrelink are different to those imputed by DCJ then DCJ will undertake a review and if applicable may make an adjustment to the rent payable.

Rounding

DCJ rounds all subsidised rents to the nearest five cents.

3. Assessable and non-assesable income and assets

Income and assets are assessable for household members aged 18 years and over, or the tenant and/or their partner if aged under 18 years. Refer to the Assessable and non-assessable income and assets page for more information.

4. Legitimate business expenses - Deductible and non-deductible business expenses

The deductible expenses must be essential to the primary purpose or type of the business.

For details of business expenses for which deduction from the gross income of a self-employed person may be made, please refer to the Legitimate business expenses - Deductible and non-deductible page.

Note: that some expenses may not be treated by the Australian Taxation Office in the same manner.

Proof of income and assets

When applying for a rent subsidy, a tenant must provide documents to prove all income received and all assets for all members of their household aged 18 years and over. Proof of income documents must be original.

Examples of acceptable documents to demonstrate proof of income are shown in the table below. DCJ may request further documentation or evidence to support the proof of income requirements.

Table 1: Proof of income and assets

Income/Asset Type

Proof of income

Benefits and allowances paid by Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Scheme
  • An income statement from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Child support, maintenance or maintenance in kind

  • Documents from Centrelink or Child Support Agency about the amount and frequency of payments made or received, including in-kind payments.
  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service.
  • Documents detailing a private arrangement.

Income from bank accounts and investments, trust accounts, and other financial assets

  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service.
  • A recent letter or statement from a bank/ investment organisation about savings/investments etc., providing details of the amount, annuity, or shares held and income or dividend received.
  • A bank statement, account records and statements of Term Deposits.
  • Letter or statement from an investment organisation providing details of the dividend or income received.
  • A letter or statement showing the origination, date and source of the funds, and disbursement arrangements.

Note: Acceptable documents are required for any funds held in any and all bank, credit union, or other financial institution, including accounts which a tenant or household member operates as Trustee, either within or outside Australia.

Overseas pensions

  • As documented in a recent assessment obtained through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service (ICS).
  • A letter or statement from an overseas government detailing   the amount and frequency received. The document must be translated into   English.

Note: DCJ will assess amounts in Australian dollars at the foreign exchange rate provided by Commonwealth Bank at the date of assessment.

Property assets (Real estate), including land, commercial or residential premises, interest in deceased estate or inheritance.

For property owned or part-owned by the tenant or household member in Australia or overseas

  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service.
  • A completed DCJ Details of Land and Property Ownership Form, with associated documents.
  • A certified copy of a Certificate of Title, a mortgage document or other title documentation.
  • Documents showing percentage of ownership, the value of the property or a recent valuation by a certified valuer, and any income received from the property

Self-employment

  • A profit and loss statement completed by an accountant within the last six months, or
  • An income taxation return for the most recent financial year.
  • Note: a tax assessment Notice is not acceptable.
  • Each partner in a business who is also resident in the household must provide their individual documents relating to the business partnership.

Special purpose payments

  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service (ICS).
  • A letter from a university or other organisation in relation to the value of prizes, scholarships or study grants received.

Wages/salary/superannuation/self-managed superannuation fund, Compensation, and other income

  • As provided through the Centrelink Income Confirmation Service (ICS).
  • Employment Income Details form completed by the employer/s.
  • Where acceptable to DCJ, payslips with year to date earnings and other details as outlined in the DCJ Employment Income Details form.
  • Employer statement or letter confirming personal and payment details, nature and period of employment and all other details as outlined in DCJ Employment Income Details form.
  • Where acceptable to DCJ, an electronically generated statement of earnings.
  • A letter or statement from WorkCover or the insurance provider detailing the amount and frequency of any income received, including any lump sum payments received.
  • Recent letter or statement from the superannuation fund including the payment amount, type, and the payment period start and end dates.

Participation in the Income Confirmation Scheme (ICS)

If a public housing tenant or household member receives payments from Centrelink, they can agree to Centrelink providing details of their Centrelink income through the ICS. If the tenant agrees to participate in the ICS, DCJ may use Centrelink’s advice of their assessable income to determine eligibility for a rent subsidy.

If income changes, the ICS does not automatically provide DCJ with their updated income details from Centrelink. Therefore, if a member of a public housing tenancy participates in the ICS, they must inform DCJ within 28 days of any changes to their income. They do not need to provide further details of a Centrelink pension or allowance change, as DCJ will then request this electronically using ICS.

If a tenant or household member participates in the ICS and has an income in addition to their Centrelink payment, they may need to give DCJ proof of this income separately if DCJ is not able to obtain that information from Centrelink in an acceptable form.

Notwithstanding that DCJ obtains a client’s income information through the Centrelink ICS, DCJ may request additional evidence from the tenant to verify the household income.

5. Eligibility for $5 minimum rent

In some situations, DCJ will assess a tenant or household member’s contribution to the rent payable as $5 per week.

These situations are set out in Table 1 below.

A $5 minimum rent is not applied:

  • To the Estate of a deceased tenant who was the sole occupant of the property. (In these cases, refer to Process - Manage the death of a sole tenant).
  • Where the tenant or a household member is on holiday, overseas, or away from their property for an acceptable absence.

The tenant must provide documentation to substantiate all claims for the minimum rent charge.

Table 1: $5 minimum rent criteria

Situation

CODE

Details

Loss of employment due to COVID-19 and awaiting Centrelink payments.COVID19The tenant or household member has lost their job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have applied for Centrelink income and are waiting for Centrelink payments to commence.

This reduction in rent will apply for a temporary period and the tenant will be advised when it no longer applies.

A client has been housed with DCJ through the DCJ Street to Home programHOSTThis reduction in rent will apply for a temporary period and the tenant will be advised when it no longer applies
No Centrelink income as spouse or partner earns too much.NILPRTLMThe tenant or adult household member receives no other income and is not eligible for Centrelink benefits due to the income of their partner.

Every six months, DCJ will review the $5 rent assessment.

Sponsorship, two-year or five year waiting period or holding a temporary visa while waiting for a DIMIA decision on immigration status.NILBRI

NILMIG

The tenant or adult household member (other than a NZ non-protected SCV holder) receives no other income (or receives only Family Tax Benefits) and is not eligible for Centrelink benefits due to their immigration status.

Note: Family Tax Payments are assessable income for rent assessment purposes.

Every six months, DCJ will review the $5 rent assessment.

Youth Allowance / ABSTUDY and the Family / Parental means testNILMNTSTThe tenant or adult household member is:
  • Not eligible to receive Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY due to Centrelink’s family / parental means test, and
  • They are not considered to be economically independent by Centrelink, and
  • They have no other income.

Some household members over the age of 18 years do not receive Centrelink income, have no other income, and their parent receives Family Tax Benefits on their behalf. These household members are eligible to pay a $5 minimum rent.

Every six months, DCJ will review the $5 rent assessment. After review, DCJ will either extend or cancel the $5 minimum rent.

Nursing home, rehabilitation, respite care or a refuge (or other safe place)NILNUR

NILREF

NILREH

NILRES

The tenant or adult household member’s living expenses are increased because they are required to pay a fee for their accommodation while in a nursing home, rehabilitation centre, respite care, or in a refuge (or other safe place) after leaving domestic violence. Where there are other adult household members remaining in the dwelling, their income is included in the calculation of the rent subsidy.

Every three months, DCJ will review the $5 rent assessment. After review, DCJ will either extend or cancel the $5 minimum rent.

PrisonNILGAOLC

NILGAOLR

A tenant or household member who is in prison for six months or less is eligible for $5 minimum rent.

DCJ can ask the tenant to relinquish the tenancy if reasonably satisfied the imprisonment will be in excess of six months. Where there are other household members, DCJ will review the circumstances of the household and consider whether another household member is able to be considered for recognition as a tenant. If the imprisonment is expected to be between six and twelve months, DCJ will consider the household’s housing needs to identify additional housing options.

6. Eligibility for the Start Work Bonus

Tenants or any person in the household over the age of 18 will be eligible for the Start Work Bonus provided:

  • The tenant  applies directly to DCJ for the Start Work Bonus by completing a rent subsidy application form and providing evidence of  the household income (even if the income details were provided through the Income Confirmation Scheme) within 28 days of starting paid employment for casual, part time, full time or seasonal work, or self-employment, and
  • The Rent Subsidy Application form and documentation is provided within 28 days of starting paid employment - verbal notification is not acceptable, and
  • The tenant receives a rent subsidy and the person applying for the Start Work Bonus did not include wages as a source of income before they started the job, i.e., they are not already in existing employment, and
  • The increase in household income is not due to the tenant or household member moving from one type of employment to another, including, for example, moving from part time to full time work, and
  • The tenant or household member is currently receiving a statutory income, and
  • The tenant or additional occupant is not receiving a New Enterprise Scheme Allowance, and
  • The tenant or household member is not receiving income from Work for the Dole that is equivalent to the Newstart Allowance (or other statutory benefit) appropriate for their age and household composition, and
  • The tenant or household member is not a low wage earner who receives an income below the Newstart Allowance (or other statutory benefit) appropriate for their age and household composition.
  • The tenant or household member is not paying a concessional rent eg $5 minimum rent or a temporary reduced rent
  • The total grace period entitlement is not exceeded.

DCJ reserves the right to limit or decline a request for the Start Work Bonus to be granted where the household employment history indicates a misuse of the grace period assistance.

7. Eligibility for temporary reduced rent payable

In some situations, DCJ will reduce the rent payable by the tenant for a short period of time. These situations are set out in Table 1 below.

Refer to Amend Rent Payable – Procedure

Table 1: Reduced rent payable criteria

Situation

Code

Reason

NCAT Order (not related to Market Rent Review)

CNMR

Where the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has ordered that the rent payable be amended for a period of time. This order is not related to the annual Market Rent Review.

Damage Rectification

RECT

Where a property has been damaged and the repairs are to be completed whilst property is occupied or the tenant has been relocated for a short period for the repairs to be completed. The tenant cannot utilise the full amenities of the property and the tenancy has not been terminated.

Fire Damage

FIRE

Where a property has been damaged by fire and the repairs are to be completed whilst property is occupied or the tenant has been relocated for a short period for the repairs to be completed. The tenant cannot utilise the full amenities of the property and the tenancy has not been terminated.

Hard to Let Property

HTLP

In cases where a property is considered Hard To Let and a reduced rent payable has been approved for a period of time.

Maintenance Required

MAIN

Where maintenance is required to a property before a tenant is to move in and the tenancy has already been created.

Outcome of Estate of deceased tenant pending

ODEC

Where a sole tenant has died and tenancy cannot be ended until Management of the Deceased Estate is determined and keys are returned.

Recognition as a Tenant pending

SUCC

Where an application for Recognition as a Tenant is being reviewed and rent payable by household member is to be reduced to the household member’s rent amount. Existing Subsidy Review will remain in place until there is a decision outcome.

Refurbishment

RFMT

Where a property is to be refurbished whilst property is occupied or the tenant has been relocated for a short period for the refurbishment to be completed. The tenant cannot utilise the full amenities of the property and the tenancy has not been terminated.

Regional Capped Rent

REGC

Where a District Director has approved a reduction in rent payable for a property.

Relocation for Management Purposes

MGMT

Where a tenant is paying market rent and has been relocated to a property with a higher market rent for management purposes. Rent  is reduced by 50% of the difference between the market rent for 26 weeks.

Storm Damage

STOR

Where a property has been storm damaged and the repairs are to be completed whilst property is occupied or the tenant has been relocated for a short period for the repairs to be completed. The tenant cannot utilise the full amenities of the property and the tenancy has not been terminated.

Water usage charges

1. Tenancies and properties which are exempt from water usage charges

Some tenants are exempt from water usage charging due to the type of tenancy they have, or the program purpose of the property they live in. Tenancies and properties that are exempt from water usage charges are detailed in Tables 1 and 2 below.

Table 1: Tenancy types exempt from water usage charges

Exempt tenancy types

Community lease

Serviced rooming house/joint venture

Commercial lease

Shared equity

Office of community housing

DCJ staff/resident managers

PEP - private

Not known at conversion

Protected tenancy

 

Table 2: Properties with program purposes exempt from water usage charges

Exempt program purposes

Affordable housing - HNSW managed

Housing stock transfer

Affordable housing - OCH managed

LGCHG (general) CWMIS

CAP general non-SAAP

LGCHG (main) non-CWMIS

CAP women’s non-SAAP

LGCHG (mainstream) CWMIS

CAP youth non-SAAP

LGCHG Burdekin youth

Commercial properties non-shops/HNSW

LGCHG Co-op CWMIS

Community housing acquisition - general

Local government initiatives program

Community housing acquisition - partnership

Long term head leasing OCH

Community housing acquisition - pensioner

Long term leases

Community housing acquisition - supported

Neighbourhood facilities

Community housing programs

Occasional child care program

Community tenancy capital scheme

Portable unit (separate from dwelling)

Community tenancy leasehold scheme

RBB/HNSW joint venture private rental

Community tenancy mainstream scheme

Redevelopment community mainstream

Crisis deed of agreement

Richmond scheme

Crisis female capital (women’s housing)

Shared equity partnership scheme

Crisis general capital

Shops only

Crisis general leasehold

Short term head leasing OCH

Crisis general mainstream

Social housing subsidy program initiative

Crisis hostels capital

Special purpose capital housing

Crisis women’s capital

Special purpose leasehold housing

Crisis women’s leasehold

Special purpose mainstream housing

Crisis women’s mainstream

Special state program - homeless youth

Crisis youth Burdekin

State boarding houses

Crisis youth capital

State community capital housing

Crisis youth leasehold

State community leasehold housing

Crisis youth mainstream

State community mainstream housing

Crisis youth social justice Burdekin

Supported disabled initiative (SHIP)

DCJ offices

Supported mental health initiative

Housing for community programs

Unknown at data load

Housing partnership community

Vacant land

Housing partnership mainstream

 

2. Percentage water charge rate

From 1 July 2019, the percentage water charge rate is 5.2% of the rent payable, capped at the maximum charge of $9.40 per week.

Under the Social Housing Management Transfer program, at the time of management transfer a community housing provider will accept the following conditions:

Shared Water Meter:

  • Tenants are charged a percentage water rate (5.2% of the net weekly rent payable – excluding the vacant bedroom charge, capped at $9.40 per week).
  • Once the tenant’s income changes, the community housing provider may apply their own policy for assessing the tenants new rent and water charges.

Separate Water Meter:

  • Tenants pay the actual water usage based on a bill that is received from the water authority every 13 weeks.
  • Once the community housing provider receives the first bill they may apply their own policy for assessing the tenant’s water charges.

For specific requirements to tenancies transferring to community housing provider management under the Social Housing Management Transfer program, please refer section 5.6.1 of the Community Housing Rent Policy (https://www.facs.nsw.gov.au/housing/community-housing-policies/rent).

3. Minimum and maximum charges

Some water charges have minimum and maximum limits. These are outlined in Table 1 below.

Table 1: Minimum and maximum water usage charges

Charge type

Minimum charge

Maximum charge

Percentage water usage

$1 per week.

This means that DCJ will waive the water usage charge if it is calculated at less than $1 per week.

$9.40

Actual water usage

$1 per week.

This means that DCJ will waive the water usage charge if it is calculated at less than $1 per week

There is no maximum actual water charge. If a tenant’s water usage is excessive, their water charges will reflect that usage.

4. Water usage allowances

DCJ will provide water usage allowances as outlined in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Allowances

Allowance Type

Eligibility Criteria

Kidney dialysis

The tenant or a household member must be paying an actual water usage charge and be undergoing kidney dialysis at home.

Where the local water authority provides an allowance in such circumstances, DCJ will assist the tenant to obtain an allowance from the water authority. DCJ will not provide an additional allowance where the water provider is already providing the allowance. This is because the tenant will receive the benefit of the allowance when DCJ processes the bill for that property.

If the local water authority does not provide an allowance, DCJ will grant an allowance based on a calculation of the cost of 100 kilolitres of water from the local water authority. An allowance of 100 kilolitres of water per quarter aligns with the allowance offered by Sydney Water for customers undergoing kidney dialysis at home. DCJ will then adjust the tenant’s water usage account at the start of each quarter.

If the credit adjustment DCJ provides under this allowance is greater than the actual water charge for the billing period, DCJ will adjust the tenant’s water account so that there is a ‘nil’ water usage charge for that period.

At the end of each year, DCJ will extend the water usage allowance if the tenant provides evidence that the tenant or household member is expected to continue undertaking kidney dialysis at home for a further 12 months.

Percentage water charge tenants are not eligible for the kidney dialysis allowance as the water charge paid by these tenants does not directly relate to their water usage. In setting the percentage rate for the percentage water charge, DCJ deducts an allowance for high water use by some tenants due to health or disability issues.

Health and disability

The tenant or a household member must be paying an actual water usage charge and have a health condition or disability that necessitates the use of significantly higher amounts of water than DCJ considers normal for a similar sized household.

DCJ regards a significant amount of water as a minimum of 25 kilolitres of water above normal household use.

If DCJ grants an allowance, it will adjust the tenant’s water usage account on a quarterly basis. DCJ will base this adjustment on a calculation of the cost of the kilolitre allowance granted applying the current water usage charges of the local water supplier.

Percentage water charge tenants are not eligible for the health and disability allowance as the water charge paid by these tenants does not directly relate to their water usage. In setting the percentage rate for the percentage water charge, DCJ deducts an allowance for high water use by some tenants due to health or disability issues.

Large household

The tenant must be paying an actual water usage charge and have a household of six or more people.

DCJ will grant a large household allowance of $10 per quarter.

Percentage water charge tenants are not eligible for the large household allowance as the water charge paid by these tenants does not directly relate to their water usage.

Rent Subsidy Non-Disclosure

1. Receipt of information by DCJ

There are many ways DCJ can become aware that a tenant may be receiving a rent subsidy to which they are not entitled. The most common ways include:

  • The tenant provides information that is inconsistent with information supplied for previous rent subsidy applications
  • DCJ receives information that is inconsistent with its current records relating to the tenant’s household circumstances
  • An acquaintance, relative or work colleague of the tenant advises DCJ of changes to the tenant’s household circumstances.

2. Inquiries related to alleged subsidy non-disclosure

DCJ may make inquiries about matters related to an alleged failure to disclose a change in household circumstances where:

  • There is a lawful reason to do so (for example, where the information is required for a purpose directly related to assessing the tenant’s eligibility for rent subsidy)
  • There is a current signed authority (for example, the tenant has signed an application for rent subsidy authorising contact with third parties)
  • There is a clause in the tenancy agreement giving consent to DCJ to make enquiries with third parties about the tenant’s income and assets
  • An exemption has been granted and is documented in the DCJ Privacy Code of Practice (for example, protection of the public revenue).

DCJ may make inquiries with, for example:

  • The tenant’s employer or alleged employer
  • The tenant’s neighbours
  • Supply authorities, such as gas, electricity, water and telephone providers
  • The police or other government agencies
  • The appropriate local council
  • Any other likely sources of relevant information.

DCJ will also review the tenant’s file and any Rent Subsidy Applications submitted by the tenant during the period of the alleged failure to disclose information.

3. Assessment criteria and evidence for determining subsidy non-disclosure

DCJ will carefully consider the merits of any information before using it as the basis of a decision regarding a tenant’s alleged failure to disclose changes to their household circumstances. DCJ will weigh information according to its reliability, strength, impartiality and importance. DCJ will not give weight to evidence or factors that are not relevant or important to the case.

DCJ will take into account the following information when deciding whether a tenant’s alleged failure to disclose information about their household circumstances amounts to an unsubstantiated allegation, rent subsidy non-disclosure or possible rent subsidy fraud:

  • Whether the tenant has denied the allegations
  • Whether the tenant has admitted the allegations in part or in full
  • Whether the tenant has a reasonable explanation for failing to disclose information about changes to their household circumstances
  • Whether the tenant was aware of their obligation to disclose information about the change to their household circumstances. If the tenant claims they were not aware of this obligation, whether this claim is reasonable
  • Whether the tenant signed a rent subsidy application form during the relevant period
  • Any previous history of the tenant’s failure to disclose information about changes to their household circumstances
  • The estimated monetary value (in terms of arrears of new weekly rent)
  • Length of time involved
  • The number of times DCJ has previously interviewed the tenant in relation to current and/or previous allegations
  • Whether the tenant has a reasonable ability to obtain the information required to clarify the circumstances
  • Whether the tenant has refused or failed to supply information that is reasonably available to them to clarify the circumstances
  • Relevant evidence/information provided by the tenant
  • Any extenuating circumstances or mitigating factors.

Extenuating or mitigating circumstances may include:

  • Diminished capacity of the tenant to understand their obligations, for example, due to disability barriers
  • Any duress the tenant may have suffered to falsely declare, or not declare, changes to the household circumstances, for example, threatened or actual domestic/family violence.

DCJ will take into account the following evidence when deciding whether a tenant’s alleged failure to disclose information about their household circumstances amounts to an unsubstantiated allegation, rent subsidy non-disclosure or possible rent subsidy fraud:

  • Any Rent Subsidy Application form(s) which contains information about a tenant’s obligation to disclose any change to their household circumstances signed by the tenant during the period of alleged failure to disclose information
  • Any information that DCJ has given to the tenant (verbal or written), which outlined the tenant’s obligation to advise DCJ of any change to household circumstances
  • Oral or written advice from any third party that the tenant has had a change in their household circumstances
  • File notes and information held on DCJ’s computer system
  • Information about the tenant’s income that differs from previous information supplied for the same period
  • Any explanation provided by the tenant or other household member
  • Proof of residency of alleged additional occupants, e.g., driver’s license, correspondence addressed to the tenant’s or other address
  • Proof of income for the tenant or alleged additional occupants, e.g., Centrelink income statement discloses income besides the basic benefit/allowance, such as wages
  • Evidence of ownership of property or other assets
  • Evidence of any extenuating or mitigating circumstances.

Evidence that DCJ may consider in determining whether any mitigating or extenuating circumstances apply includes:

  • File notes and information held on DCJ’s computer system relating to incidents of domestic violence or problems relating to cultural issues
  • Police reports
  • Support letters from advocates
  • Information held about the tenant’s capacity to read, write and understand English
  • Documentation of health or intellectual disability issues which may affect a person’s comprehension or decision-making ability.

4. Outcome of assessment

DCJ may take a range of actions depending on whether it has determined that the situation is one of unsubstantiated allegation, rent subsidy non-disclosure or possible rent subsidy fraud. The actions are outlined in the table below.

Table 1: Outcome and actions

Outcome of assessment

Action

Unsubstantiated allegation

DCJ will not take any further action, except to remind the tenant of their obligation to disclose any future changes to their household circumstances. However, DCJ will keep information regarding the allegation and resolution on the tenant’s file.

Rent subsidy non-disclosure

DCJ may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Reassess the tenant’s rent subsidy from the date the change occurred and negotiate a repayment plan for any resulting arrears. Where a tenant pays a water usage charge based on a percentage of net rent, DCJ will also reassess the tenant’s water usage charges
  • Cancel the tenant’s rent subsidy from the date the change occurred and negotiate a repayment plan for any resulting arrears

·

  • DCJ is able to pursue any debt resulting from a rent subsidy cancellation or re-assessment in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
  • Take action to terminate the tenancy

Any debt accrued by rent subsidy non-disclosure is not written off due to bankruptcy and can be pursued.

Rent subsidy fraud

DCJ may take one or more of the following actions:

  • Reassess the tenant’s rent subsidy from the date the change occurred and negotiate a repayment plan for any resulting arrears. Where a tenant pays a water usage charge based on a percentage of net rent, DCJ will also reassess the tenant’s water usage charges
  • Cancel the tenant’s rent subsidy from the date the change occurred and negotiate a repayment plan for any resulting arrears

·

  • DCJ is able to pursue any debt resulting from a rent subsidy cancellation or re-assessment in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
  • Take action to terminate the tenancy
  • Commence proceedings for criminal prosecution under the Housing Act 2001 or the Crimes Act 1900 or refer the matter to the Department of Public Prosecutions for prosecution under the Crimes Act 1900.

Any debt accrued by rent subsidy fraud is not written off due to bankruptcy and can be pursued.

Account management

1. Evidence requirements when making decisions about managing accounts

DCJ will consider the following evidence requirements when making decisions about managing accounts.

Situation

Evidence Requirements

Reasonable repayment arrangements

  • DCJ computer records or documentation of the household’s income
  • DCJ computer records showing the amount of the debt
  • File notes or other documentation related to the client’s circumstances

Reasonable repayment arrangement broken

DCJ computer records indicating that a tenant has not made a repayment

Inability to meet reasonable repayment requirements

The client will need to provide written advice from:

  • A financial counselling service, or
  • The NSW Public Trustee and Guardian, or
  • The Public Guardian, or
  • A tenants’ advocacy service, or
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIA), or
  • Another similar service

Obtaining a Specific Performance Order under section 187

DCJ computer records indicating a tenant’s payment history, the level of arrears, the existence of repayment arrangements and any breach of those arrangements

Obtaining a Specific Performance Order after the issue of a notice of termination

  • As above for Specific Performance Orders under section 187
  • Previous specific performance orders

Issuing a Notice of Termination

  • As above for Specific Performance orders after issuing a Notice of Termination
  • File notes, computer records and letters outlining attempts to contact the tenant
  • Breaches of previous specific performance orders

Applying for an Order of Termination and Possession

  • As above for issuing a Notice of Termination
  • The tenant is still occupying the premises
  • File notes, computer records and letters outlining attempts to resolve the situation and have the tenant enter into a reasonable repayment arrangement
  • File notes or written evidence documenting that the intervention of support services (where applicable) has failed to assist in resolving the situation

Credit or debit balances on vacated accounts

DCJ computer records

Transferring credit balances to other accounts where the tenant is still housed with DCJ

Written agreement from the tenant to transfer the balance

Tenant declared bankrupt

Notices to Creditors of Bankruptcy by the Trustee in Bankruptcy


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Last updated: 04 May 2020