Tenancy Charges Policy
Last published 31 Dec 2019
Generally, all tenants living in a property owned or managed by the Department of Communities and Justice (DCJ) are required to pay any charges that relate to their tenancy. These charges include:
- Water usage
- Repairs to the premises that are not caused by fair wear and tear, the criminal activity of a third party or as a result of a domestic and family violence offence where the tenant is not the perpetrator
- Rental Bond
- Miscellaneous debts, such as fees for a dishonoured cheque
- Outstanding debts from a former DCJ tenancy, called former debt.
This policy is to explain what tenancy related charges are, and how they are determined.
This policy applies to all tenants living in a property owned or managed by DCJ, including tenants of the Aboriginal Housing Office.
3. Policy statement
DCJ is able to apply tenancy related charges in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
DCJ establishes separate accounts for a tenant’s rent, water usage and other tenancy related charges and payments.
Applying tenancy related charges
DCJ charges rent on a weekly basis.
DCJ charges market rent for all its properties. This is the maximum rent a public housing tenant can be charged.
If a household has a low or moderate income, the tenant can apply for a rent subsidy. The rent subsidy will reduce the amount of money the tenant has to pay in rent. DCJ Housing has the authority to grant a rent subsidy under the provisions of the Housing Act 2001.
As outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, DCJ cannot redirect rent paid by a tenant to another debt the tenant may have with DCJ.
For more information on how DCJ calculates rent, see the Charging Rent Policy.
In December 2005, DCJ introduced a charge for water usage, which it charges on a weekly basis.
Tenants pay either a percentage water charge or an actual water charge. DCJ determines this according to whether:
- The property where the tenant lives has a separate or a shared water meter.
- The local water authority provides DCJ with sufficient usage information to determine the tenant’s water usage.
DCJ is responsible for meeting all other costs associated with providing water, such as water connection charges, sewerage and other charges, and providing water in common areas.
For more information on how DCJ calculates water usage charges, see the Water Usage Charges Policy.
Repairs to the premises
DCJ will charge tenants for the cost of repairing damage to their premises if they are responsible for causing the damage.
Tenants can expect DCJ to provide them with premises that are in a reasonable condition and to maintain that condition through the life of the tenancy.
DCJ expects tenants to take good care of their premises and to take responsibility for property damage, other than that caused by fair wear and tear, the criminal activity of a third party or where a tenant has had a domestic and family violence offence perpetrated against them. In such instances, the tenant is not liable for repair costs.
DCJ will charge the tenant for repair costs only if the tenant has accepted liability or DCJ has sufficient evidence, substantiated by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), of the tenant's responsibility for the damage.
For more information on repair charges, see the Tenant Repair Costs Policy.
Rental bond accounts
In November 2018, DCJ introduced rental bonds for tenants who cause significant damage to their DCJ properties.
The bond amount charged will be based on four weeks market rent, capped at a maximum payment of $1400 (indexed annually at the same rate used by Centrelink).
DCJ tenants will have two options for payment of their rental bond:
- Paying upfront (at a 20% discount)
- Paying by a scheduled instalment plan of between 24 and 36 months. The length of the instalment plan will be based on the household income.
For more information on which tenants are required to pay bond rental bonds, see the Rental Bonds Policy.
Miscellaneous debts occur because of various other tenancy related charges, such as bank fees for dishonoured payments, council fines for unregistered swimming pools and court costs. For example, if a tenant pays their rent by cheque, which is later dishonoured, DCJ will place the dishonour fees on the tenant’s miscellaneous account.
DCJ will add charges to this account as they become due.
Combined former debt
Where a current tenant has had a previous tenancy with DCJ, it will transfer all outstanding debts from the tenant’s former accounts (including rent, repairs, water and miscellaneous) to a combined former debt account.
Advising tenants of charges
- Advise tenants in writing of any tenancy charges it places on their accounts
- Advise tenants in writing of any changes to their tenancy charges
- Issue a statement to tenants every three months. This statement outlines the charges, and payments made, on all of the tenant’s accounts.
Payment of tenancy charges
DCJ expects tenants to arrange for prompt payment of their tenancy charges. As DCJ charges rent and water usage on a weekly basis, tenants must pay these charges on or before the due date.
Tenants can pay their tenancy charges by any of the following methods:
- Arranging an automatic payment from their Centrelink payments (Rent Deduction Scheme)
- BPAY ®
- Arranging an automatic payment from their bank, building society or credit union account (direct debit)
- A one-off payment option at Australia Post and Services NSW is available for new tenants to make their advance rent payment.
Rent Deduction Scheme
It is a requirement of the DCJ Residential Tenancy Agreement when a new tenancy agreement is entered into, the tenant signs an Authority for Rent Deduction if they receive Centrelink income.
Current tenants and household members who receive a pension or allowance from Centrelink can arrange to have their tenancy charges paid automatically at any time throughout the tenancy. Tenants will need to complete an Authority for rent deduction form to authorise automatic payments.
Where DCJ changes the amount of rent, water usage and/or rental bond instalment payable (where a bond applies), it will tell Centrelink to debit the new amount.
All banks provide BPAY and tenants will need to sign up to financial institution internet or phone banking before they proceed. The biller code for DCJ is 334292. The reference number is the payment reference number of the account the client is paying.
If tenants need to pay a number of accounts, such as rent, water usage and rent arrears (by agreement), they will need a payment reference number to make the payment.
Through BPAY, tenants can set up periodic payments, such as weekly or fortnightly rent.
If a tenant disputes a BPAY payment, they will need to contact their financial institution to resolve the matter.
Tenants can pay online through the MyHousing app, DCJ website. By selecting the ‘MyHousing Online Service’ button, then ‘Make a payment’, tenants will be taken to a secure website facility where they can allocate specific payments for each account. Tenants can make payments using their rent payment reference number and can pay using any type of bank or credit union account.
If a tenant disputes an Online Services payment, for example, if they have paid their rent but the payment does not appear on their rent account, they need to contact their Client Service Officer.
DCJ can accept direct debits from most financial institutions. Tenants can make payments from any account, provided the account holder authorises the payment from that account. DCJ will only debit payments from a tenant’s financial institution account on Thursdays.
When DCJ changes the amount of rent, water usage and/or rental bond instalment payable (where a bond applies), it will tell the financial institution to debit the new amount.
However, there are some issues to note with this payment option. Some financial institutions may charge a fee for this service and if a tenant does not have enough money in their account to cover a direct debit payment, the financial institution may charge them a dishonour fee. It may also charge DCJ a dishonour fee, which DCJ will pass on to the tenant.
DCJ may not agree to a tenant paying by direct debit if they have a poor payment history using this payment option.
Changing payment methods
Tenants can change their payment method at any time, provided they ensure that they pay their tenancy charges on time.
Difficulty in making payments
Tenants must notify DCJ immediately if they are unable to make payments. Where a tenant is having difficulty paying their tenancy charges, DCJ will work with and support that tenant towards resolving their difficulty.
For more information, see the Account Management Policy.
4. Legislation and compliance
DCJ is able to apply tenancy charges in accordance with the provisions of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
5. Further information
Appeals and review of decisions
If a tenant disagrees with a decision DCJ has made, they should first discuss their concerns with a Client Service Officer. The next step, if they still believe DCJ made the wrong decision, is to ask for a formal review of the decision. For information on how reviews work, the tenant can ask the Client Service Officer for a copy of the factsheet Appeals and Reviewing Decisions, or read the Client Service Delivery and Appeals Policy.