Tenants in public and community housing have raised a number of questions relating specifically to their housing situation during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Can I be evicted?
Tenants in social housing, such as public and community housing are not protected by the COVID-19 tenancy regulations.
What happens if am behind in my rent?
Rents are set as a percentage of your income, so if someone in your household has lost their income you should immediately ask the landlord to reassess your rent. Note: the Covid-19 Disaster Payment is not considered assessable income for the purposes of rent setting for public and community housing tenants.
If you have concerns about how the arrears was calculated, make sure to seek advice from your local Tenants' Advice and Advocacy Service.
Although the COVID-19 tenancy regulations do not apply for tenants in public housing, DCJ Housing has confirmed they will not be seeking to evict public housing or Aboriginal Housing Office tenants in lockdown areas for rent arrears, and will seek to work with them to negotiate a repayment plan that is affordable.
If you are in community housing and are worried you have an arrears debt get in touch with your provider and ask to negotiate a repayment plan.
What about other reasons?
See our Factsheet 10: Landlord ends agreement
- What if I have lost income?
If you have lost your job as a result of Covid-19 you may be eligible for $5 minimum rent. This includes situations where:
- you or a household member have lost a job due to COVID-19 and have applied for Centrelink income and are waiting for Centrelink payments to commence. The $5 minimum rent will apply until you start receiving Centrelink payments.
- you or a household member are not working or have reduced hours of work, and are receiving the Covid-19 Disaster Payment. The $5 minimum rent will apply until you are no longer receiving Disaster Payment.
More information is available on the DCJ website about eligibility for the $5 minimum rent policy.
Note: The Covid-19 Disaster Payment is considered non-assessable income for the purposes of rent setting for public housing and community housing tenants.
- Cleaning and maintenance
The NSW Government has introduced restrictions on non-urgent maintenance and repair work across Greater Sydney including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong and Shellharbour. From 19 July 2021 to 30 July 2021 only urgent maintenance and repair work can be undertaken in social housing properties.
All non-urgent maintenance and repair work in progress and also works that are planned such as bathroom and kitchen upgrades will be delayed until after 30 July 2021. These restrictions also include non-urgent works that are subject to NCAT orders.
Contractors are still permitted to attend to make safe any works in progress under the current restrictions.
If you have an urgent repair issue it is still possible call the Maintenance Line on 1800 422 322. This service remains available 24 hours a day.
DCJ Reports that the cleaning of common and communal areas of their buildings will continue to be undertaken including increased common area cleaning programs in multi-unit and high-rise building complexes in the inner city of Sydney.
Cleaning services are occurring seven days per week, and there should be increased cleaning of floors, walls and surface areas in shared areas such as lifts, stairwells, foyers, and garbage chutes. There should also be regular cleaning of the lift cars, buttons and high frequency touch points in traffic and common areas. Hand sanitiser stations should have been installed in common area foyers of high-rise buildings.
If you think this is supposed to be occurring in your area but it is not we suggest reporting this to the Housing Contact Centre on 1800 422 322.
If you are in community housing and are worried about cleaning services in common areas of your building, get in touch with your provider to ask what additional measures they are taking during this period.
- Home visits
Due to the current stay at home orders across Greater Sydney, Wollongong, Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, any routine home visits from DCJ Housing staff in these areas are being rescheduled, or changed to a virtual home visit. Please see the DCJ Housing website for further information.
If you are a public housing or community housing tenant and are due to have a visit from your housing provider, you can contact your provider and ask to reschedule the visit if you feel unwell.
- What if I live in 'affordable housing'?
If you live in affordable housing you may be covered by the COVID-19 tenancy protections. It depends whether or not the landlord is a social housing provider. In other words, is the landlord a community housing provider or is the landlord a private landlord who is receiving a rebate to provide a lower rent? Check your written residential tenancy agreement or ask for a copy. The landlord's name will be on the front of the agreement.
If the landlord is a social housing provider, and they either own the property or are head-leasing it from the owner, then you are not covered by the rules and the protection against evictions.
If your property is owned by a person or a company that is not a social housing provider and instead a social housing provider is managing the property for them, then you are covered by the rules.